Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spinnakers Cerveza Resposado

I love barrel aged beers. Contact with the wood mellows harsh flavours and can impose unique flavours upon a beer. Such is the case with this release from Spinnakers, the barrel aged Cerveza. Aged in freshly emptied Mexican tequila barrels, one can immediately pick out the flavours of tequila right away. While I was not keen on the addition of citrus zest and salt, this beer was simple and tasty. Good tequila is sipped, like a fine vodka, rum or whiskey, not shot back with a salt lick and a lemon wedge. But this is just my snootiness coming though.

Spinnakers Cerveza Resposado = 6/10

I should really rethink my rating scale because tasty beers like this never get high scores. The nose does not shock with it's calm gold tequila hints and wood character. Each sip too is one dimensional with golden ale, citrus (both from hop and additions), crackers, tequila and wood tannins. The tequila flavour was subtle and not overpowering. It was a little salty, not gose salty, but just enough to linger on the lips. Overall I liked it and you should too. That is unless you have had a recent bad experience with tequila and are adverse to the flavour flashback. I'm decades out of college, so I was fine.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Whatever is clean. A simple pint glass will do.

Food Pairings: Light fare would be best, perhaps seafood. Something with lemon and salt to resonate with the beer. This just screams fish and chips

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Coast to Coastless by Phillips et al.

I know what an ESB tastes like, and this is not it. The previous BJCP guidelines had a category for extra special or strong bitter. The current guidelines now call this category the British Strong Bitter. Perhaps because ESB is a trademark belonging to Fullers; news to me also. The Brewers Association still lists guidelines for an ESB, but the Coastless still does not hit these marks either.  The strong bitter should be a fruity, malty beverage with noticeable hop bitterness and low alcohol presence. Maybe at the top end of the alcohol range (4.6-6.2%) you might get some alcohol flavours. This Coastless is boozy as all get up, it tasted like a Negroni with prune juice. If I were to classify the beer, I would call it an Old Ale. So, I shall review as an Old Ale; otherwise the score would be much lower. This is not a judging contest, but a taste evaluation. Thanks to Bradley for the nice photo.

Coast to Coastless = 6/10

As mentioned above, this beer is boozy. It smells like rum soaked cherries, but oddly the mouthfeel is thin. Not really medium light as BJCP would like. It was still quite boozy in the sip like a negroni cocktail muddled with treacle, prunes and a Macintosh toffee bar. Still more warming boozy in the finish. If it wasn't such a thin beer the boozy might not as be so noticeable. Still it would make an excellent Ole Ale

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (simple label are relatively good description of flavour)

Glassware: A lager glass, common pint or a dimpled mug

Food Pairings: Roasted light meats, pork, burgers, lamb. Could also work with grilled vegetables or kabobs.

Cellar: The dissolved yeast might further change the flavour, but the simple malts and low hop presence, cellaring might not be suitable.

Vital Stats: ABV 7.6% and IBU 50. According the BJCP 2015 should be 4.6-6.2%ABV and 30-50IBU. Brewers Association 4.8-5.8%ABV and 30-45 IBU. Old Ale would fit better at 5.5-9% ABV and 30-60 IBU (BJCP) similar for BA.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Snakebite by Spinnakers

While is not really a beer, but a bottled cocktail, this shall be an short review. The snakebite is a beverage that is equal parts cider and lager. Presumably Spinnakers mixes the Kolsch and their house cider.

Snakebite = 4/10

The low score does not really indicate a bad beer, negative numbers would show that. This beer is just, well... bland. Green apple tartness from the cider blends equally with the cereal tastes of the lager. With a tart and dry finish, the Snakebite is certain to be a patio sipper. Some will sip for refreshment, I kept sipping to find flavours. Not many were noticed.

Taste +2
After taste +1
Alcohol +1 6%
Value 0

label 0

United Front by VIB and Steel and Oak

I am a little bit behind, so most likely everyone has processed/recycled this beer already. If not, then you should go and drink one. The current trend in beers is to brew obscure and forgotten styles: gose, grisette, gratzer, etc. While the kellerbier/zwickelbier is not obscure it does by far have the coolest name. The United Front collaboration beer label states "unfiltered braun beer". When you say unfiltered lager, you might be referring to a kellerbier. This translates from the German to read "cellar beer", or beer served directly from the lagering cellar. Braun means that is the brown, as there are pale (helles) or amber (Marzen) versions of kellerbier. So what did the beer prick think about the front?

United Front = 6/10

The aroma was a little subdued with hints of mint and lettuce; so a well lagered aroma. Dissolved yeast provided a suitable mild to medium mouthfeel with a slight slickness of diacetyl. Diacetyl was low which is suitable for this style. As with any beer that declares the use of Vienna style malts, the dominate flavours were lightly toasted, grainy with small amounts of earth. Rounding out the palate were dark fruits, prunes and a little green apple. Green apple is not unheard of for an unfiltered lager. These tastes did not linger and provided a clean finish.  

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5.8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (simple label are relatively good description of flavour)

Glassware: A lager glass, common pint or a dimpled mug

Food Pairings: Roasted light meats, pork, burgers, lamb. Could also work with grilled vegetables or kabobs.

Cellar: The dissolved yeast might further change the flavour, but the simple malts and low hop presence, cellaring might not be suitable.

Vital Stats:
SRM 16.5. On the label the EBC (European Brewing Convention) of 32.5 was stated. EBC= 1.97*SRM. This above the range for a Vienna lager (9-15), in the range for an altbier (11-17) and low end for a Munich Dunkel (14-28).
IBU 35. This IBU range makes it hoppier than most German lagers, except for the altbier which has a very wide range (25-50).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ShortWave by Phillips

Just a real quick review to keep my backlog from getting too long. Not much to say about this beer anyways, it is a pale ale in a tall can.

ShortWave = 4/10

The nose started promisingly with a pronounced whiff of pine, cedar and bitter oranges. Sadly once this pleasant aroma dissipated there was a noticeable aroma of diacetyl. This was confirmed by the slick mouthfeel that was best described as medium to full. Building on the citrus, pine thing was the usual honey and biscuit malts. The Shortwave is a oddly sweet beer despite the initial hop bitter aroma. Overall, the best thing in a can for under 2 bucks. I think the description is aggressively popular.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.2%
Value 0
Appearance 0

Glassware: Right from the can is fine.

Food Pairings: Would go with anything, honest.

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Canadian Brewing Awards 2015 Beer Geek Analysis

I was asked by a friend for my thoughts on the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards. Let us break down the medals to prove that BC is the best place in Canada to drink craftbeer. Perhaps the perfect place start is with the brewery of the year, Four Winds Brewing in Delta. This brewery just celebrated it's second birthday with a very prestigious present. At this years CBA, they took home 5 medals from 14 entries (thank you Brent). This is a 36% success rate; most of my analysis of the CBA will feature this measurement. In turns of medal breakdown, BC breweries cleaned up. Of the possible 123 brewing medals, BC took home 45, Ontario 41 and Quebec racked up 23. As a percentage it reads BC 37%, Ontario 33% and Quebec 18%.
Macro breweries are allowed to enter this contest.  As a side note, macro breweries took home 11 medals or 9% of the total. I'm not sure who is and who is not considered a macro back east, so this is an estimate. Macros only scored higher than a craft brewery in 5 categories. Most of these were the ones you would expect: lagers, wheat ales, light lagers and cream ales. In comparison, Victoria breweries fared almost as well as the macros with 9 medals or 7%. In fact, Victoria received 23% of the medals won by BC breweries.
BC breweries also swept two entire categories: Black IPA and Red/Amber ales. Ontario also swept two: Wood/Barrel aged and Honey/Maple beers. This seems about right, we like our hoppy beers but do not get a lot of maple syrup on this coast.
At this point the comparisons between BC and Ontario breweries might seem pretty close. These next numbers pull BC to the front of the line. Of the 1097 total entries, BC submitted 336 and Ontario 408. While Ontario did enter more beers, BC had a higher percentage of winners based on entries. BC claimed medals 13.4% of the time, while Ontario only took the podium 10% of the time. To make BC appear more awesome, lets look at this based on our provinces population. In January 2014, BC had a population of 4.61 million and Ontario 13.6 million. This means that BC had a medal ratio of just under 1:100,000, while Ontario trailed far behind with 0.3:100,000. More great beer per capita! We will just ignore the fact the Ontario took home 15 golds and BC only 12. But BC did take claim the best IPA, which is the only category anyone cares about. Well done Russell Brewing. Apparently Mike really liked the Punch Bowl.
Now for some of the highlights and fails of the CBA 2015.
For highlights, many new BC breweries took home medals. Category 12 in Victoria took home gold in the BIPA category. Bad Tattoo in Penticton took home two silvers. Rossland Beer Company's 7 summit milk stout out classed last years beer of the year, the Sasquatch stout from Old Yale.
As for the fails, they all happened back east. Amsterdam Brewing entered the most beers, 29 in total. They only took home 2 medals. Mill Street entered 26 beers and took home nothing. Ouch. Even Canoe Club beat them and won a medal in the pilsner category.
Something I found interesting was that BC's favourite brewery, Driftwood, did not place a single entry. Also one of the largest brewery in BC, Phillips, only entered their top selling four beers. Too bad, Blue Buck Pale Ale did very well in the 2012 lager category
If you have any highlights or thoughts about this years CBA, leave a comment below. Or you can leave a comment if you think my math is wrong.

Obscuritas Sour by Driftwood

Two things to mention in the post. The first is rather shocking. As everyone knows, last weekend was the Canadian Brewing Awards and BC Breweries cleaned up. Beer Me BC has a nice write up on his blog. What was shocking was that the most notable BC Brewery not to enter any beers was Driftwood. Nope, not a single entry. I wonder if they did not enter in 2014 either? Phillips just sent in their four best sellers. Too bad, apparently Blue Buck Pale Ale was a silver metal winner in the lager category in 2012.
The second item to mention was the inability to satisfy of my pompous palate. This is neither new nor exciting. Like a good Victoria beer drinker, I rushed out to buy the 2015 Driftwood sour release. Money was blindly placed on the counter and this coveted bottle was rushed home to chill. The idea temperature was reached and the favourite glass was used. After being thoroughly cleaned of course, lest I be scorned by a certain penny farthing rider. I sipped, I tasted, I tasted again and I was saddened. Don't get me wrong, this beer was delicious. I was just not stupefied. When the first Driftwood sour came out, I was blown away. The flavours were so unlike those the Victoria craft beer drinkers have every tasted. This years sour tastes very similar to last years. Perhaps the desire to search out new flavours and fermented imbibing experiences has cost me the ability to just enjoy a beer. The contents of my recycling bin has been looking rather empty lately. Is this why big breweries never market, or listen, to beer geeks/snobs? We, or maybe just I, never drink the same beer twice and whine whenever I do. This seems like a good time to shut my mouth, figuratively, and review this beer.

Obscuritas 2015 = 9/10

This beer hits all the marks that a good sour should. The nose is a ponderous mix of sweet and sour. Dark candy sugar and balsamic raspberry vinaigrette are the dominating aromas. Your teeth grind from the gripping acidity and your tongue screams from the sourness. It is hard to sort out the flavours, sour bing cherries, little wood smoke and molasses taffy. The ending coats everything and leave a long and pleasant sourness.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (beautify label art as always)

Glassware: A snifter

Food Pairings: Pairing with sours is hard, so I'm not going to bother this time

Cellar: Most certainly.