Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spirit Chaser Coffee Porter (R&B)


This porter is brewed with Salt Spring Island Sumatra coffee. Everything I have tasted from R&B has been top notch; so whenever I see something new I pick it up.

Spirit Chaser Coffee Porter = 9/10
Ratebeer
Beer Advocate B+

Rarely am I a fan of flavoured porters, unless it is coffee. This dark brown pour offers up a great dry roasted and cocoa nose. It was more so than anticipated from a low ABV brew. It was unexpectedly full bodied with a velvety cola-like astringency. The dry roasted cocoa mixed well with the slight coffee and darker milk chocolate enhancements. At the end a cola-like astringency and dry cocoa held around for a bit. This is a must for porter fans.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 4.8% but it works well
Value +1
Appearance +1

Elysian Perseus Porter
Granville Island Porter and Real Life
Baltika 6 Porter

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FRAP, antioxidants and beer

No, this has nothing to do with flatulence; it has to do with antioxidants in beer. I never miss an issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The October 13, 2010 edition was a real page turner. What caught my eye was the FRAP assays for different styles of beer. A FRAP assay is a laboratory measurement of the antioxidant power of a liquid. It doesn't mean that much in real life but it is useful for comparisons. Anyways, researchers in Italy quantified the antioxidant power (via FRAP assay) of various styles of beer. They measured bocks, abbey style, pilsners, lagers, ales, wheat and dealcoholized beers. You could probably guess the results: bock beers had the highest FRAP and dealcoholized beers the lowest. Barley is thought to contribute 70% of beer's antioxidants and hops the remaining 30%. Antioxidants intake has been associated with reducing the risk of developing many chronic diseases. Fruits, veggies and berries have lots of antioxidants.
But what was interesting were the numbers. Bock beers had FRAP reading at 4663 umol/L. This is important stay with me... Wine drinkers always boast that their stuff has more antioxidants than beer. This is true; wine has a reading of 12137 umol/L. If you really want a healthy drink, coffee had 22667 umol/L; orange juice had 5147 umol/L. What is the average serving size of wine? About a cup, for a FRAP of approx 3000 umol. The average (CAMRA) serving of beer is one English pint for a FRAP reading of 2650. A serving of wine doesn't have that much more antioxidants than beer.
So when some cork dork jabbers on about how his drink is better for you: just sip quietly and deeply. Just don't tell them, "it ain't healthy for you if you keep spitting it out."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Deckhand Saison (Lighthouse)

This beer is scaring me. What if I don't like it? I have met Dean the new brewer at Lighthouse and found him to be a very nice, and knowledgeable guy. What will I say to him if I don't like this beer? Stay calm, deep breaths: here we go.

Deckhand Saison = 9/10
Ratebeer 4/5 (1 rating - Thanks Capflu)
Beer Advocate nope

Oh what a relief, this is a good one. This nose is certainly a saison. It has everything you want: straw, barnyard, slight cloves, pepper and that unique Belgian yeast. Every sip provides a full spicy blast with supporting alcohol warmth. The tastes are hard to take in all at once. You need a long checklist to mark all the flavours: tart/sour wheat (check), peppery dryness (check), lemons (check), light pit fruits (check) and apricots (check). If you missed anything, it will revive itself in the long linger of peppery lemons and alcohol warmth.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1 (I might buy again)
Appearance +1 (nice local artists work on bottle)

La Moneuse
Saison Dupont
Ommegang Hennepin

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Propeller Porter

Yet another porter; thank goodness this one is not flavoured. This porter is in the London (brown) style so it should be nuttier and less roasted. The robust porter is usually stronger in ABV and roasted flavours.

Propeller Porter = 5/10

Ratebeer 3.57 95th percentile
Beer Advocate B+

Now this is nice: a nose of dry roasted cocoa nibs really sets the mood. The taste follows the nose but adds a touch of cooling menthol from the hops. I found this a little thin and low in carbonation, which was perfect. After the swallow a slight, dry coating of cocoa powder remained. One of the nicest porters I've had in a while.

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1
Appearance 0

Taddy Porter

Butte Creek Porter
New World Porter (Avery)

Russian Gun Imperial Stout

I was happy to find this beer in Toronto. It won the gold medal at the 2009 Canadian Brewing Awards. All the beer mag 'experts' rave about this beer; what do they know. Pfff.

Russian Gun Imperial Stout = 10/10
Ratebeer 3.53 94th percentile
Beer Advocate B

Apparently they know about good beers. For a high ABV stout the nose is awfully faint. Only the barest of roast and sweet licorice could be detected. A mild alcohol warmth started things off, but the big star was the roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate and licorice. No amount of dental hygiene could remove the oily coating this beer felt behind. Long after the tongue scraper was put away, the alcohol still exerted its warming effects.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 8.4%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Singularity (Driftwood)
Pothole Filler (Howe Sound)
Longwood Imperial Stout

Gaffel Kolsch

A properly prepared Kolsch is a thing of beauty. These ales undergo considerable lagering and are clean, lightly fruity with a crisp hop finish. A very delicate brew. I'm sorry if it's not from Cologne it's crap.

Gaffel Kolsch = 5/10
Ratebeer 2.94 43rd percentile
Beer Advocate B+

It just smells clean: like fresh cut grass and organic orange peel. Up front a refreshing, spicy hop tingle clears the palate for a wash of green apple, lemon and straw. The finish is gloriously clean with no off flavours/DMS. I could drink this every day and be a happy man. The description does not fully describe the refreshing nature of this beer.

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content -1 4.8%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Reissdorf Kolsch

Georg Schneiders Wiesen Edel-Weisse

No preamble today. It's a strong wheat beer and it's delicious. If you see buy it. Unless you happen to not like this style. But still buy one for me, then I will let you be my friend.

Georg Schneiders Wiesen Edel-Weisse = 9/10
Ratebeer 3.56 95th percentile
Beer Advocate A-

Tart lemons and spicy yeast fill the room as this bottle is opened. The aroma is big enough to taste. There is so much effervescence and carbonation up front that the delicate lemon, wheat and spicy yeast flavours almost get lost. But they don't. They stick to your tongue with a slight astringency of lemon drops and sourdough bread.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (bonus for being organic)

KellerWies (Sierra Nevada)
Schneider Weisse
Dunkel Weiss (Great Divide)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Devil's Pale Ale (Great Lakes Brewing)

Readers of my blog know that I am a sucker for packaging. I can say 'readers of my blog' with confidence now; other people besides my Mom read it. A tall black can with demonic numbering and a satanic title: I hope the beer inside is worth the potential damage to my immortal soul.

Devil's Pale Ale = 6/10
Ratebeer 3.24 77nd percentile
Beer Advocate B

Slick packaging aside: the nose is not a good indication of thing to come. It is absent; maybe a bit of caramel if I had to give one. This dark brown fluid grips your tongue with an astringent hop bite. The resinous and citrus fade to allow the caramel and nut-toffee malts time to do their thing. The tongue coating lasts forever with toffee and light citrus. Perhaps I am a spoiled PNW hop head but I was hoping for more aroma. It was a decent English style pale ale.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6%
Value 0
Appearance +1

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a Love of Dogs
Salt Spring Island Pale Ale
Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Mill Street Organic Lager

I had this on draft at the College Street Bar in Toronto. Mill Street Brewery always produces great brews. They may not be experimental but always solid.

Mill Street Organic Lager = 8/10
Ratebeer 2.27 12th percentile
Beer Advocate C+

Despite the low scores on RB and BA, I thought this beer was excellent on draft. This pale, low ABV lager emitted a surprising amount of straw, light peanuts, apricots and other light fruits. The taste was equally surprising: a pleasant mix of dry peanuts, lemon, straw and pale fruits. Sadly it has a clean finish. Perhaps it was the uberhip location or my demanding thirst, but I found this beer to be extremely delicious and refreshing.

Taste +5
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content +1 4.2% (this gets a positive because of big flavour and low ABV)
Value +1
Appearance +1

Granville Island Lager
Session Premium Lager
Brooklyn Lager

Molson Export

I can only imagine what everyone is thinking about me right now. There is a very good reason for me drinking this beer; I was under a great deal of pressure. The family was visiting Ontario Place for some quality time. In case anyone was wondering, it was a lot of fun for the six year old. Anyways, back to the beer. We stopped for lunch and there was nothing decent to drink on the menu: all macro brews. The Misses insisted that I get something, so I choose the Molson Export. It is something we can't get on the west coast.

Molson Export = 1/10
Ratebeer 2.33 13th percentile
Beer Advocate C+

Luckily this pale yellow swill was served ice cold so there was no nose. Yup its a macro: big tongue confusing carbonation hit was followed by a one-two punch of cheap honey and corn syrup. The slight citrus hop snap at the finish was the only reason this did not score a zero. No aftertaste.

Taste +2
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content -1 4.9%
Value 0
Appearance 0

Milwaukee's Best
Canadian Cold Shots
Molson Old Style Pilsner

Friday, January 21, 2011

Farsons Lacto Stout

A milk stout tastes just like it sounds. It has an added sweetness due to the addition of lactose sugars. They are usually low in alcohol and the sweetness tempers the roasted flavours.

Farsons Lacto = 3/10
Ratebeer 2.83 35th percentile
Beer Advocate C

This is not a brew for the average beer drinker; it is quite sweet. The faint nose of roasted chocolate and condensed milk does not give away the first sip. It is velvety and creamy on the tongue yet lacks a roasty and hop presence. Milk chocolate dominates the taste and lacks the bitterness associated with stouts. The wet and creamy chocolate at the back of the throat fades of quickly and clean. It was OK, but I have had better milk/sweet stouts.

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content -1 3.4%
Value +1
Appearance 0

Hitachino Nest Lacto Sweet Stout
Stockyard Oatmeal Stout

Local 2 (Brooklyn Brewery)

The strong dark Belgian ale beer category such a treat. Flavours are always complex and can change with aging and temperature serving. You have your strong Trappists, Abbey styles even Unibroue makes a couple.

Local 2 (Brooklyn Brewery) = 8/10
Ratebeer 3.67 97th percentile
Beer Advocate A-

I must have some odd genetic defect; whenever I see a Brooklyn Brewery corked magnum, my wallet comes out and I start salivating. The aromas of dark fruit, spicy yeast and candied sugar are not helping my condition. I'm drooling for a reason: the full mouthfeel of dark honey, plums and rum cake cures my sickness. As I lose consciousness, the dry/tart yeast, alcohol burn and candied dark fruits lingers into blackness.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Brother Thelonius and Blade Runner Boobs
Rochefort 8 and the Stig
Chambly Noir

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Raasted Imperial Stout

Imperial Stouts: you either love them or you don't. These beers age gracefully if you have the patience.

Raasted Imperial Stout = 10/10
Ratebeer 3.91 99th percentile
Beer Advocate B+

An outstanding nose with vanilla, bitter chocolate and citrus (orange). The mouthfeel is unique: velvety, yet prominent alcohol burn/tingle. All this is bundled with roasted milk chocolate, espresso, citrus/pine hops and vanilla. It coats every dental filling with cooling alcohol and roasted chocolate for a linger to remember. Think of this as Guinness on steroids.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Singularity (Driftwood)
Pothole Filler (Howe Sound)
Longwood Imperial Stout

Moylan Hopsickle

It's an imperial IPA, what more do you want? Maybe a bottle opener?

Moylan Hopsickle = 9/10
Ratebeer 3.94 99th percentile
Beer Advocate A-

True to form: big citrus and sweet pine peak out of this mixed up hop soup. It is teeters on the good side of too hoppy, but oddly not very astringent. Each painful sip is very dry with mouth puckering resins, citrus and pine. The malt flavours are unknown due to an intense hop barrage. If I had to guess: floral and caramel. It stays long on the tongue with a resinous tingle. Sure to separate the true hop head from the wannabes.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (beautiful colour and OK label)

Unearthly Imperial IPA
Hop Stoopid
Half Pints Humulus Ludicrous

Singularity 2010 (Driftwood)

The barrel photos on the Driftwood website made my heart go a flutter. There are also rumors of a sour Flanders style in the works. Now that will be a great accomplishment. The Singularity is a Russian imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels for 4 months.

Singularity 2010 = 11/10

The nose is powerful stuff, full of sweet bourbon, nail polish and bitter-sweet chocolate. This big ABV brew gives a lasting warmth that travels all the way to your toes. Along the way it spreads liquid joy: the tastes are dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, toffee and coffee. These flavours never really leave you. Its thickness provides a long linger of warm bitter chocolate, bourbon and astringent vanilla. I hate to sound like a fanboy, but this is perhaps the greatest fluidic substance produced on Vancouver Island.

Taste +6
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 11.8% (wink wink)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (very modern label)

Pike Street Entire Wood Aged Stout 2009
Drake's Imperial Stout and Executive Class Guilt
Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

Battle of the Barley Wines 2010


Every year Victoria beer lovers await the yearly arrival of the barley wines. This year Phillips released "Trainwreck" aka "Burley" aka "Deadhead"; Driftwood always calls their release the "Old Cellar Dweller". There are two recognized styles of barley wines: American and English. They are very similar but American styles are more hop forward and favour PNW hop varieties.

Trainwreck 2010 = 5/10

Ratebeer
Beer Advocate A

This was the first one sampled. The nose was as expected: fruity with light caramel and sherry tones. Ouch! This brew was full of the booze; it burned at the start and went all the way to my navel. Along the way caramel, figs, cherries and pineapple tastes were deposited all over. The flavours didn't last long, it faded into a sherry-like alcohol snap at the end. There was maybe a small splatter of earthy hops, but not much. This might be considered an English Style? It just seemed a little milder in flavour than last year.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10%
Value 0
Appearance +1 (nice artwork on label)

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller = 11/10

Ratebeer 3.9 96th percentile
Beer Advocate A-


We opened this one at the half way point of the Trainwreck; we are thankful to have sampled this one second. The nose was massive with hops: sweet citrus, pineapple and tangerines. Malt aroma was not diminished at all; lots of licorice, caramel, figs and everything! Ouch! Every sip was hop smack (tangerines, pomelo and pineapple) with collateral malt damage (licorice, sherry and toffee). At the end a long warming of sherry will surely draw a smile on every beer geeks face. Oddly the massive alcohol content was only tingling and not burning.

Taste +6/5 (whatever it's my blog)
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 11.8% (ya right, wink wink)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (the label is a little creepy, but this can be overlooked)

The clear winner is the Cellar Dweller. The Trainwreck just seemed thin and tired in comparison. Looking forward to see how the Dweller will age in my beer cellar.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Neuschwansteiner

I will admit buying this beer purely on packaging alone. This officially is a Munich Helles Lager. It was German brewers response to the very popular Czech Pilsner. The helles tend to be a bit maltier with less spicy hop flavours.

Neuschwansteiner 5/10

Ratebeer 2.75 30th percentile
Beer Advocate B

The pour was very clear and yellow so I did not expect much. Here is where that story ends. Glorious was the large floral hop nose with ample sweet grasses. A spicy/herbal hop snap up front mixed well with the good carbonation. The malts fought back with calming pale grasses and honey. It ended very dry and clean with only a hint of spicy honey leftover. I will never look at a lager the same again.

The castle on the label is Neuschwantein castle in Bavaria. I know this castle well; it was the inspiration for the Disney castle. I see this structure a lot.

Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content -1 4.7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Perhaps the nicest label so far)

Stiegl and is addiction really so bad?
Old Towne Bavarian Lager (Swan's)
Grolsch

Dorothy Goodbody's Country Ale

It's English, it's strong, it's an ale. Do we need to say anything more?

Dorothy Goodbody's Country Ale = 8/10

Ratebeer 3.27 80th percentile
Beer Advocate A- (1 review)

Alluring artwork aside, the nose is also getting me going. Though faint, it has enough biscuit and caramel malts to let you guess what is ahead. Yes, it just what you were expecting. A strong English ale in all its glory: caramel/bready malts balanced with slightly spicy and floral hops. There was a slight citrus flavour that gave an astringent and dry ending. Don't forget the low carbonation and medium mouthfeel.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice label)

Innis and Gunn Dark Rum Cask and the Health Kick
Duchy Original Organic
Bass Pale Ale

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale (Stone)

I like anything wood aged. The wood just gives an added dimension to the flavours: vanilla, tannins and sherry. I would wood age soy milk if the wife would let me.
Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale = 9/10
Ratebeer 3.84 99th percentile
Beer Advocate A-

Anyone who has tried an Arrogant Bastard will remember the flavours: grapefruit citrus, resin and toffee. I'm sure many people buy this beer because of the catchy name. The wood aging gives an extra layer of flavours: vanilla, roast, tannins and (obviously) oak. Bready and toffee malts try very hard to keep this hop monster in check. Upfront is quite bitter but not pucking; it is oddly smooth for such a high ABV beer. Every sip leaves a long lingering of astringent citrus notes.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great looking silk screened bottle - I kept it)

Pike Entire Wood Aged Stout 2009

Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Innis and Gunn Canadian Cask 2009

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Beer


This is the first Vancouver Island beers drank in 2011. I mentioned previously that I intend to try every beer produced on our island. Spinnakers Happy New Beer is a Belgian witbier. Classic examples include Hoegaarden and Allagash white. This style usually has a high percentage of wheat and some added spices: coriander and orange peel are common. The kicker with this one is most of the ingredients were grown on the island: Mike Doehnel’s malted wheat & barley from the Saanich Peninsula and Saanich grown coriander.

Happy New Beer = 3/10
Ratebeer 3.2 (1 rating - thanks CapFlu)
Beer Advocate n/a

I was surprised by the forward nose: light spices, wheat, coriander and lemon. This must have been a poorly sealed bottle because there was no carbonation. These beers are usually very bubbly. The taste made up for it. There was ample yeast, lemon bread, light spices but it was a little lifeless. I'm sure it was the lack of carbonation because the flavours really grew on you. It all just faded away too quickly but left a touch of wheat and lemon. I would have picked this as a summer release and not a winter beer.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content -1 4.5%
Value 0
Appearance 0 (average label art)

Estrella Damm Inedit
Double Wit (Great Divide)
Celis White

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Labyrinth Black Ale

I hate attending BYOB dinner parties; they can be anxiety inducing. It is not what you are thinking. I have no worries about meeting, greeting and making small talk. Also, rarely do I make awkward comments and come across as a sociopath. It worries me because I have to bring beer. For a beer geek, choosing the right beer to bring to a party can be a Herculean task. In this case I was more like Theseus and headed for the Labyrinth.

Labyrinth Black Ale = 10/10
Ratebeer 3.76 98th percentile
Beer Advocate A-

The label may say 'black ale', but the vanilla, wood and bitter chocolate reveals its true nature: imperial stout. Is that a hint of licorice I smell? Oh man! The dark chocolates, licorice, dark cherry were perfect; a good hop snap at the end made this brew heavenly. There was a very full mouthfeel that was silky and slippery. It was complemented by an all encompassing alcohol warmth. The best beer I have had in some time.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 13.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Stunning label art and corked bottle)

Pothole Filler (Howe Sound)
Longwood Imperial Stout
Pike Wood Aged Stout 2009

Scuttlebutt Porter

Everyone needs to drink more porters.

Scuttlebutt Porter = 5/10
Ratebeer 3.35 86th percentile
Beer Advocate B

The wisp of a nose barely emitted enough dry roasted barley and chocolate to entice the taste buds. With a medium-full mouthfeel, the highly roasted barley came across with not a lot of carbonation support. At the bitterness was low with ample amounts of smooth chocolate flavours. It was an average porter.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.8%
Value +1 (barely)
Appearance 0 (boring label)

Baltika 6 porter
Fat Cat Brewery Porter
Black Boss porter