Friday, July 30, 2010

Saison du Buff


Saison du Buff

This was a collaboration between Stone, Victory and Dogfish Head breweries. Their saison was brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Ratebeer 3.65 97th percentile

Taste +4

The nose was unexpected with huge amounts of rosemary, thyme and citrus hops. Parsley doesn't really have a strong smell and the sage probably blended with the spicy wheat/yeast. It was a good saison on its own. The spicy yeast and tart wheat was greatly enhanced by the herbal thyme and rosemary. This was rounded out nicely with a good dose of citrus hops. Overall it had a medium mouthfeel with a good amount of lacing.

Aftertaste +2

There was a long coating of creamy wheat with a slight tart astringency.

Alcohol Content +1 6.8%

I'm sure the alcohol enhanced the spiciness.

Value +1

This was a glorious, bottle conditioned twist on the classic saison.

Ingame Enhancement +1

This was another Seattle hotel room beer.

Overall 9/10

This is great new take on an old saison style. The added herbals and spices made this a great beer. It might not be suitable for the unseasoned beer drinker.

Midas Touch and How far would you drive for cheap booze?
La Moneuse
Ommegang Hennepin

Epic Beer Dinner 2 with Sink the Bismarck

I love a good beer/food pairing dinner. The problem with most of them is that they always serve meat. This an awkward situation for a vegetarian like me. If you are in the situation I find myself in, throw your own beer tasting dinners. For the second Epic Beer Tasting, Dave from Beer in BC
brought a Sink the Bismarck by BrewDog.

The format for this dinner was a little different; we did it potluck style. I prepared a loose menu and guests were required to bring certain dishes or the paired beers. Suggestions such as, "bring olives and pickles" or "bring an IPA" were well received and followed to the letter. As for the venue, a big thanks goes out to Rod Phillips from Liquor Plus for allowing us to use his beautiful tasting/cooking room. It was truly a stunning venue.

Now on to the food.


The welcoming beer was Mill Street's Organic lager. This was an excellent choice; the flavour was light, bright and not overly taxing on the palate.

The first pairing was Bruchetta and a Vienna style lager. The maltiness of the Brooklyn Lager mixed well with the acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes.

For dish two, olives and pickles were paired with a Saison. This was the surprising hit pairing of the night. The yeasty spiciness of the Driftwood Farmhand Ale balanced out the fat and saltiness of the olives. If the olives were spicier it would have been even better.

The next pairing was against my wishes but everyone loved it. Dan from Small Beer brought devilled scotch eggs and some regular devils for me. I really did not mind; it makes for a good controversial opening sentence. Props go to Dan for an excellent and creative dish. This was paired with Howe Sounds King Heffy. The banana, citrus and tart wheat cut through the heavy protein and creamy egg yolks. Dan has posted the recipe on his website. They were very good. Even my buddy Geoff, who hates eggs, sampled a few.





The next pairing was sponsored by myself. I paired a limited release Trappist beer with creamy brie cheese and crackers. Yes, I know pairing creamy cheeses and strong belgian pale ales is too easy. The plums, yeast and candied sugar of the La Trappe Isid'or has enhanced by the high fat creamy brie.


A good IPA can be paired with anything, even breakfast cereal. In this case, we took Phillips Amnesiac IPA and let it do battle with Mrs. Left4beer's phyllo mini-pizzas. The pizza toppings included caramelized onion, portabello mushrooms and camembert cheese. The sweet and rich pizzas were no match for the caramel and imposing citrus hop bomb that is the Amnesiac double IPA. The two gastronomic menaces blended fabulously.

The final pairing was the uber hopped and ultra strong Sink the Bismarck frozen IPA. This 41%ABV hoppy monster is an impossible pairing. You need something super sweet or spicy to balance out this ultra hop behemoth. A sweet carrot cake was up to the job, but it was no match for the Bismarck. Simon's cake was very good though.

Thank to everyone that attended; it was a good night. Nothing pairs better with good foods and beers than good friends.

Cask Days Revisited

As my readers will know, all four of them, I rarely get out. This week I am temporarily a bachelor. As such, I am unable to cook for myself. Naturally this raises the question, "Who will feed me?" Since the cat was not forthcoming with a meal plan, I went to Clive's Classic Lounge for dinner.
Why would a beer geek like me go to a cocktail bar for dinner? Two reasons: uber delish ratatouille and Shawn. Shawn was not on the menu, but he did satisfy all my imbibing needs. I was not supposed to mention the wood aged negroni; so I will not. What I will mention is that there will be another cask night, Thursday August 5. The flavour this month will be organic rhubarb Berliner Weisse. This is one style I have not tried before. Generally the Berliner Weisse style is a weak wheat beer. It is drank quite young which imparts a refreshing and sour taste to this cloudy beer. Weak wheat beers are perfectly suited for flavouring with fruit or herbal syrups. Apparently the rhubarb was grown by a VIB employee using spent grains from the brewery. Hopefully there will be some left when I get there.
BTW I also had a De Koninck and a Nostradamus.
Don't forget that there was a rumour of a La Trappe cask and possible Delirium Tremens ON TAP! Delirium is a beer perfectly paired with anything; even breakfast cereal and breath mints.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oatmeal Stockyard Stout


Oatmeal Stockyard Stout

Ratebeer 3.33 84th percentile
Beer Advocate B+

Taste +3

This was another exclusive Trader Joe brew. Like all good stouts, the nose was full of dry roasted grains and coffee. The taste came through as expected with dry, bitter cocoa, roasted oatmeal and thin coffee. The black brew had ruby edges, minimal head retention and a medium mouthfeel that I thought was a little thin.

Aftertaste +1

The ending was astringently dry with a quick touch of bitter cocoa. Quite a pleasant experience.

Alcohol Content 0 5%

It was not mentioned on the bottle, but it was easily guessed due to the lack of warmth.

Value 0

This was a nice oatmeal stout, but I thought it was too dry and thin.

Ingame Enhancement +1

Still in Seattle and trying not to think about the possible history of my hotel room.

Overall 5/10

A decent oatmeal stout. It was very dry but still had a good dose of bitter chocolate and roasted oatmeal.

Dark Stout Oatmeal Stout (R&B)
Rogue Shakespeare Stout
Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hofbrau Bock - Trader Joe's

I like Trader Joe's. Mrs Left4Beer really likes Trader Joe's. Life is good and all is harmonious after she visits this epicly odd grocery store. She almost has as much fun here as I have at Bottleworks. The beer selection is getting better and very reasonably priced. I rarely buy a six pack of beer because then the same beer has to be sampled six times. This policy might have to change soon because a lot of their house beers sound really good.


Hofbrau Bock - Trader Joe's
Brewed by Gordon Biersch

Ratebeer 2.82 35th percentile
Beer Advocate B-

Taste +3

There was zero carbonation from this bottle and therefore zero head retention. The nose also did not provide any surprises; it was very lager like with light honey and sweet limes. Things improved with a light/medium mouthfeel and a slightly creamy sensation. Lightly toasted grains with toffee hints overpowered the earthy hops. This brew was a little on the sweet side but nice. There were 22IBU for those keeping score.

Aftertaste +1

The earthy hops, honey and toasted grains slowly faded away cleanly.

Alcohol Content +1 7%

I never saw that one coming.

Value 0

It was nice, but a little too light and sweet for a bock.

Ingame Enhancement +1

Still in Seattle wondering how many DNA stains are in my hotel room.

Overall 6/10

A nice, light, sweet and high octane bock can now be found at Trader Joe's. Don't forget to pick up some 2 buck Chuck and chocolate covered edamame beans.

Samuel Adams Imperial Dopplebock
Boss Kozlak Bock
Yankee Jim Ice Bock

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Session Black Lager

Session Black Lager

Rate Beer
3.34 85th Percentile
Beer Advocate B

Taste +4

This was a most unsuspected surprise; I had heard good things about the 'Session' lagers. It carried more of a nose than one might expect: faint dark, whole wheat toast and a bit of cocoa. Even though the mouthfeel was a little watery and the first sip was a little grassy, the roasted bread and mild chocolate made it all better. There was medium carbonation and a caramel/coke-like acidity.

Aftertaste 0

It ended clean and dry with a quick slap of bitter chocolate.

Alcohol Content 0 5.4%

Not really session strength as the name might suggest.

Value +1

I wish I had bought a flat of this stuff; it was sure cheap enough.

Ingame Enhancement +1

Still in Seattle drinking great beer.

Overall 6/10

I am really liking the addition of dark/roasted malts to normally pale styles. Full Sail took a good lager and made it better with dark toast and light bitter chocolate.

Paddock Wood Black Cat
Asahi Black
Iniquity Black Ale

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Canoe Bavarian Copper Bock


Canoe Club Bavarian Copper Bock

Ratebeer 3.11 42nd percentile
Beer Advocate A- (2 reviews)

Taste +3

The nose carried a good dose of caramel, toasted malts and slightly floral hops. Each sip was the same as the nose suggested; a malt forward beer with toast and hints of citrus and floral hops. There was a bit of vegetal in there to add some medium body.

Aftertaste 0

It finished clean and dry, with maybe a little green apple left over.


Alcohol Content +1 6.3%

You could not tell; there was little alcohol presence or warmth.

Value 0

It was nice, but I would not buy a bottle to bring home.

Ingame Enhancement +1

Meterman and I were out to rip up the town. We partied hard but were at home and in bed by our wife imposed 10pm curfew.

Overall 5/10

The Bavarian bock was caramel/toasted malt forward with just enough floral and citrus hops to keep the sweetness from running away. This is good restaurant beer; flavourful, not overly challenging but will appeal to the masses.

Hermannator Ice Bock and Zombie Wedgies
Winterbier Doppelback and Hops can save my prostate
Phillips Springbock

At least everyone else is drinking more too..

Everyone should read the journal Addiction; then you would not miss awesome stories like this one. Changes in per capita alcohol sales during the partial privatization of BC retail alcohol monopoly. Wow, now that is a title. In 2002 the moratorium on new private liquor store licenses was lifted. Between 2003/4 and 2007/8 there has been a 33% increase in private liquor stores (786 to 1,294) and a 9.9% decrease in BC Govt Liquor stores. This lead to a per capital alcohol sales increase from 8.04 litres in 2003/4 to 8.63 litres in 2007/8. When expressed another way, we in BC increased our pure ethanol consumption by 4.2 million litres between 2003/4 and 2007/8! These numbers are similar to other nations that have partially deregulated liquor sales: such as Sweden.


So is there a down side? The first reaction is NO, this is awesome. One can get beer after 6pm on weekdays and the private stores have a great selection of beer. I feel better if I can get a bottle of Mikkeller or Chimay at 7pm on a Sunday afternoon.






It may seem great for individual consumers, but from a public health standpoint it can be a nightmare. Some estimates from Sweden have predicted that there would be a possible 19% increase in alcohol related deaths if booze was sold in private liquor stores. This number might increase to 33% if hooch was available in grocery stores. The effects of alcohol deregulation in the UK has been disastrous; at least according to some people.

So what is the take home message from this article? No much. Alcohol consumption is going up, the long term effects of this is not known. There is potential for things to go wrong. Thanks to the researcher at the Victoria based, Centre of Addictions Research of BC for publishing this article.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ten Fidy Imperial Stout


Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

Ratebeer 4.09 100th percentile
Beer Advocate A

Taste +5

I never excepted this massive flavour from such a little can. The big, fluffy mocha head topped an inky black fluid. Oddly the nose was absent but it did emit an aroma of balsamic vinegar reduction. To say the mouthfeel was very full is limiting its influence. It was thick and creamy with massive burnt, bitter coffee, dry chocolate, cocoa and even milk chocolate sweetness. Just when you thought it was all over a slight citrus hop blast tingled the tongue.
Aftertaste +2

The long lingering of bittersweet chocolate and alcohol warmth was creamy and slippery.

Alcohol Content +1 9.5%

Hard to believe someone could fit all that alcohol in a small can.

Value +1

This is a big beautiful imperial stout, well worth the $4 price tag for a 355ml can.

Ingame Enhancement +1

This was another Seattle hotel room beer. No gaming to be had, just good beers and bad TV.
Overall 10/10

This is an epic impy stout with big flavours and big booze. The massive bittersweet chocolate, cocoa, coffee were lovingly delivered on a silky grapefruit peel.

Drake's Imperial Stout and Executive Class Guilt
Stone Imp Russian Stout 2007
Moylan's Ryan O'Sullivan Imp Stout

1516 Bavarian Lager

1516 Bavarian Lager

Ratebeer 2.55 21st percentile
Beer Advocate B-

Sampled on tap at Christie's Pub.

Taste 0

There was no taste, just DMS and cream corn. If I had to pick another flavour it would be honey.

Aftertaste -1

The slick tongue coating was cream corn and dried grass clippings.

Alcohol Content 0 5%

Value -1

This was lame piss beer with no flavour.

Ingame Enhancement -1

There are sometimes you feel cheated. Mostly I feel sorry for Bavarians if this the beer they are expected to drink.

Overall -3

I think this is the lowest scoring beer tasted to date. Perhaps 'tasted' is not the correct word.

Granville Island Lager

Sam Adams Boston Lager
Negra Modelo

Hockley Stout


Hockley Stout

Ratebeer 3.07 53rd percentile
Beer Advocate B

Taste +4

This was one of the first craft beers that opened my eyes. The flavours are just as I remembered them. The aroma was roasted malts with thin coffee. Toasted malts carried a creamy light bitter chocolate all over the mouth. Your mouthfeel was full with low carbonation and oily vanilla highlights.

Aftertaste +1

Oddly the aftertaste didn't last that long. It was a dry and crisp ending. Only a slight roast and bitter chocolate remained.

Alcohol Content -1 4.2%

Even better at almost session strength.

Value +1

This is a great stout; mild in alcohol but big in flavour.

Ingame Enhancement +1

Toronto provides a great opportunity to sample all the great craft beers available in Ontario.

Overall 6/10

This is a great dry stout. The flavours of roasted coffee and bitter chocolate are packed with low alcohol to make this an easily repeatable beer.

The Great Irish Stout Blind Taste Test
Old #38 Stout (North Coast)
Keepers Stout

Howe Sound Nut Brown

Howe Sound Nut Brown

Nut browns have never appealed to me. Perhaps all the styles have been focused at mass markets and not very interesting.

Ratebeer 3.39 81st percentile
Beer Advocate B+

Taste +3

This one was a refreshing change of events. The nose was roasty and slightly nutty. I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of caramel, roast, bourbon, wood and pecans with every sip. Your mouthfeel was medium and slightly creamy. I think there was a little cocoa powder thrown in there.

Aftertaste +1

It was clean with dry pecans, wood and bourbon. Sadly it faded quickly leaving a slick coating.

Alcohol Content -1 4.7%

This should count as a +2; a beer this flavourful with such a low ABV is unusual.

Value +1

This is one nut brown I would buy again and not just to get the fancy bottle.

Ingame Enhancement +1

This was the perfect beer to make me forget about the Big Rock Lager.

Overall 5/10

All of the beers from Howe Sound have been excellent; this was no exception. The flavours were unexpected and welcome: wood, bourbon, pecans and creamy caramel.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Bailout Bitter and Carbon Footprints
Three Beavers

Big Rock Lager

Big Rock Lager

I had a glass of this beer knowing that I would never buy a six pack of this stuff. The tap list just said Big Rock Lager, so I just it is the XO lager.

Ratebeer 2.21 9th percentile
Beer Advocate C-

Taste +1

Technically it is beer. The nose was absent; maybe grass and vegetal. Oddly the taste was also absent. There was just enough grass and vegetal to give the illusion of body and flavour.

Aftertaste 0

It was clean with just the bare minimum of resinous hops to coat the tongue.

Alcohol Content 0 5%

Value 0

As I mentioned before, it was beer.

Ingame Enhancement 0

Still learning about the Victoria Seals and Christie's Pub.

Overall 1/10

There is a time and a place for a beer like this. We all know that time and occasion. Luckily I will never find myself in those situations.

Hop Head IPA by Tree Brewing


Hop Head IPA

Hop Head IPA is part of the daily drinking West Coast IPA trifecta. It goes head to head with Red Racer IPA and Hop Circle for top spot in the BC hop lust category. I had this one on tap at Christie's pub. The draft list here is large and there is some rotation.

Ratebeer 3.57 95th percentile
Beer Advocate B+

Taste +3

With the name “hop head” certain flavours and aromas should be present. Plenty of citrus, pine and resinous hop present in the nose: check. The taste is just like the nose with a mild astringency: check. Bready malts just barely keep the hops in balance: check. Yup everything checks out to be a certified hoppy brew.

Aftertaste +2

A long, bitter citrus finish coats the entire mouth. There is just enough resin to make it a tongue scraper.

Alcohol Content 0 5.8%

Value +1

It was good, but not as good as Hop Circle nor Red Racer IPA.

Ingame Enhancement +1

It is always awkward to sit in a group of people talking about things you know nothing about. But I had fun drinking my beer and learning about the Victoria Seals.

Overall 7/10

A listing of this beer on the draft list is always a welcome sight. Despite its ranking behind Hop Circle and Red Racer, I have drank more of this beer than any other. It's darn good and available everywhere.

606 IPA Paddock Wood
Brew free or die IPA
Brewdog Hardcore IPA