Wednesday, July 30, 2014

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

2014 will be known as the year of number breweries. The 4 Mile Brewpub bombers hit the shelves this week. Very soon we shall see things from Category 12 Brewing. The 4 Mile will be the first brewpub that is not within walking distance of downtown. It shall join the -hopefully- growing list of brewpubs in the Western Communities. The Loghouse Pub will be brewing in the near future, though not in time for a Great Canadian Beer Fest appearance.
Perhaps we should learn a little bit about beer on this post. Let's learn about diacetyl. The phenomenon of diacetyl in beer is a lengthy discussion. So I shall be brief; it is bad. The flavour of diacetyl is similar to butter and should only be noticeable in English style ales. Then it should only be slightly present. If you want to taste diacetyl, grab a bag of microwave popcorn or visit the 4 mile pub. If you wish to learn more about diacetyl as on off flavour in beer, check out this site.
During the brewing process, yeast does its thing and converts fermentable sugar into all sorts of stuff. This stuff is both good (alcohol, carbon dioxide, ester, phenols) and bad (diacetyl, fusel alcohols, etc). A good brewery will allow the yeast to continue working and naturally remove the diacetyl it has produced. If young beer is removed from the yeast too early, diacetyl can be left behind. This is generally considered a flaw in the brewing process. There are other causes of diacetyl such as unhealthy yeast or infection from other bacteria (pediococcus). But to again summarize: diacetyl is bad.

4 Mile Summer Wheat -2/10


Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. Maybe not, many reviews on Untappd reflect my feelings.
The nose of the Summer Wheat is heavy with butter. There is a little bit of wheat and cracker malts also. Each chewy sip leaves a long sticky smear of diacetyl than no amount of carbonation can remove. I failed to taste much else except the buttery diacetyl. If pressed for something else, I would guess about lemons and wheat. Most of this beer hit the drain. There will be no further beer money spent on 4 Mile beer. On the positive side, this is the best packaged beer in Victoria to date. The whimsical artwork was very eye catching. It also gave a good description of what beer should have tasted like with food pairing ideas.

Taste -1
Aftertaste -1 (long and sticky)
Alcohol Content 0 4.5% is a nice sessionable strength
Value -1 (not a good beer)
Appearance +1 These are the nicest labels in Victoria. Very eye catching with good description of theoretical flavours and food pairings.

Glassware: Pint glass will do. If you have a six sided jam jar, now is the time to fetch it.

Food Pairings: Usually you can pair this beer with anything. Would go well with pasta salad topped with pecorino cheese. Seafood would also be a good choice. For those into fish, this beer style goes great along side trout with lemons.

Cellar: more like drain

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Una Mas by Canoe and Salt Spring Island

I am a slacker. I have not reviewed a beer for weeks. That is it! I commit to review a local beer every weekend. Luckily it is the summer and new releases are scarce. Sometimes I wonder why I do it. It is not as though this blog has a great number of readers. There is little fame and even fewer fortunes derived from blogging. Perhaps it is the community (small) and the creative process. Kinda like brewing itself. You take raw ingredients, add knowledge and you produce a unique and desirable product. That is the theory.
But I digress. This is another Victoria area beer collaboration.  Salt Spring Island is a little far away, but they are close enough. I had some reservation about this beer. Both of these breweries are known for unleashing diacetyl (D-bomb) beers. Now you put them together...

Una Mas = -1/10


Ratebeer no ratings 
Beer Advocate no mention

Oh yes, there is the diacetyl and sulfur I was dreading. It is mixed in with a cracker aroma and slight lager character. There is a bit of lemon and cream corn in there too. The mouthfeel is light to moderate with medium carbonation. Chewiness is the best way to describe the sip. Add that to crackers, a slight lemon and mixed citrus flavours. It is the aftertaste that really gets me; quite slick and sticky. I don't think I finished the bomber. Lets not talk about the pint I had on Canoe's patio. This is not going to be posted on Twitter or anywhere else. Some people quite liked this beer.

Taste +1
Aftertaste -1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value -1
Appearance 0

Glassware: Standard lager glass

Food Pairings: Nope

Cellar: I'm sure this beer will see a lot of shelf time

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Surfrider Bohemian Pilsner (Vancouver Island)

It has been a while. This pause is not due to lack of great local beers to try, but mostly due to a computer crash. Thank you NCIX for the new gaming/blogging rig. There is no shortage of great local beers to try. If you can find it, try the Lighthouse Rhubie ale. Other notable releases I have to review include the double delicious Whooper Swan Impy IPA by Swan's, Mike Doehnel's pilsner by Driftwood and  the Canoe/Salt Spring Una Mas release. There are too many releases by Spinnakers to mention.
But this article begins with a sad commentary. It appears things might be changing at Vancouver Island Brewing. Those familiar with the industry have mentioned that much of the VIB sales force have left or have been let go. Luckily, Victoria's top Certified Cicerone is still on the job. Hopefully this will not impact their seasonal bomber releases. This is the formula we have come to enjoy in BC craft beer. Have a handful of core brands that pay the bills and release some one off bombers to generate brewery interest. If these bombers taste good and sell well, repeat them. We should be seeing more of the Australian barley wine Numbskull by Lighthouse in the near future.
This leads us to the latest release from VIB, the Surf Rider Bohemian Pilsner. This is donation brew with 25 cents going to the Surfrider Foundation. You all voted for this one; I would have preferred the West Coast Common but such things happen in a democracy. What did the beer prick think about this beer?

Surfrider Pilsner = 7/10


This is a beer blog so maybe I should try and provide background about this beer style. Of the two old world pilsner styles, this Bohemian style is the maltier and less hoppy variety. By contrast, the German style Pils tends to be drier (more attenuated) and hoppier. This extra hop flavour is enhanced by water that has a higher sulfate content. The Bohemian Pils tends to be richer in malts and more restrained in the hops. This is due to a special barley mashing technique called decoction. Decoction involves changing the temperature of the water used to extract sugars from barley during mashing. Surfrider is a textbook Bohemian pils. The nose is slightly sulfury with cracker malts blended with minor floral and spicy hops. It was unexpectedly hop forward with floral but the chewy honey and cracker malt backbone was not far behind. A slightly mushy linger ended clean; awaiting another sip. Say what you will against the humble pilsner. I would like you try and drink a barrel aged, imperial stout on a warm patio.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.0%ABV
Value +1 A decent Czech pils
Appearance +1 Nice label and decent description of what the beer will taste like. Donations to charity are a nice touch.

Glassware: Only a tall pilsner glass will do

Food Pairings: Will work with most light fair. I'm thinking cucumber and Brie sandwiches. The chewy maltiness always calms spicy Thai food. For those who are bold; they might try a white chocolate fondue.     

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chico Nico by Swan's

Ordinary, nice people often go unnoticed. The same can be said for beer. Geeks always pay attention to the imperial, barrel aged stout with fair trade, organic ingredients. Certainly a wax dipped bottle, signed by the brewer, must be better than any simple pale ale. I'm not going to disagree. However, this does not mean we should overlook common beers on the shelf. Take the Chico Nico for example. This beer will never score 5 stars on Untappd nor 98 on Rate Beer. However, I shared this beer with a non beer geek friend. He said that this was one of the most unique and tasty beers he has drank in a while. This is where the Chico stands out. It is approachable to every palate and delivers a divergent flavour surprise.  

Chico Nico = 7/10

The nose is abundant with tropical citrus notes. Mangos, tangerines, grapefruits, they are all there. Biscuity  and bready malts play host to a blended tropical hop bitterness. The slight astringency is a little soapy but doesn't distract from the sweet tangerine and blood orange linger. Very nice

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.2%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 Growler fills always get bonus points.

Glassware: Any glass will do. May I suggest a nonic as this is the most efficient way to delivery this delicious beer to the face.

Food Pairings: This beer would pair well with almost any middle of the road meal. Nice accompanying cheeses would be a cheddar or gouda.    

Cellar: Why wait?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

30 Year by Vancouver Island Brewing

Has it been thirty years already? It seems like an odd timeline, when you consider most of the craft beer changes have occurred within the last ten to fifteen years. Craft beer creativity and variety is certainly snowballing. The 30 Years beer from Vancouver Island pays homage to the Victoria craft beer veteran, Pipers Pale ale. I served Pipers at my wedding, but I won't tell you how long ago that was. Let's call this beer the Imperial Piper's.

Thirty Year = 7/10


The nose is a pronounced mixture of spicy (allspice) earth and boozy vapours. A little green apple appears upon warming.  Each sweet and chewy sip provides a warming sensation of prunes, toast, raisins, allspice and vodka tingle. Only the sweet earth and prunes lingered. Rather nice.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Elegant label art and good description of how beer will taste)

Glassware: Any glass will do.

Food Pairings: The earthy flavours would resonate well with mushrooms or wild game. Something salty or sour would contract nicely with the sweetness of this beer I'm thinking a mushroom risotto with foccacia bread and balsamic vinegar would work well. Maybe you would prefer grilled duck and scalloped potatoes. 

Cellar: Nope.

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