Friday, February 22, 2013

Black Jackal (Phillips)

There are some beer reviews that are biased from the start. This is one of them. I love coffee and I love beer. My 'indestructible'  Saeco espresso machine is almost dead. I have even dry hopped espresso before. This is another local beer formula that seem to work. Swan's, Hoyne and Canoe make a coffee infused something.


Black Jackal = 8/10

You must love coffee to fully enjoy this brew. The nose consists of espresso grounds and not much else. Each mouthful is chewy, powdery and astringent from the espresso roast. This tastes like blender processed, dark chocolate covered coffee beans. It is hard to pick out a flavour that is not coffee related. I am OK with that. Do not drink that beer to close to bed, you might have difficulty sleeping. This warning comes from first hand knowledge. Your dreams will be long with images of dry cocoa and coffee grounds.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Always great art and description of beer flavour)

Other coffee beers
Swan's Double Shot Porter
Hoyne Voltage Espresso Stout


Choc-O-Holic (Spinnakers)

I heard this beer did so well that Spinnakers had to buy some beer back to stock its own off sales. This is believable, it is a darn tasty beer with everyone's favourite ingredient. The trend in Victoria beers is to go after the chocolate porter market. Makes sense, apparently Phillips Longboat porter is the best selling bomber in BC.

Choc-O-Holic  = 6/10

Campfire mixes well with cool berries to make the nose happy. A roasted astringency starts an enjoyable sip of lagered berries and bittersweet milk chocolate. The mouth feel is medium with an odd cooling sensation. At the end, a dry cocoa dusting leaves a vague nutty finish. The Misses enjoyed it; that is the sign of a good chocolate porter. Very nice.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.75% (How did they get that number?)
Value +1
Appearance 0 Art was OK

Twenty Pounder DIPA (Driftwood)

Last time I did not like this release, it was almost too painful to drink. Hops are awesome and all, but you do not need to overwhelm us. Yes, there are a whole crap load of hops in here. This time it seems almost palatable. I will be brief, I have a few reviews to finish tonight. 

Twenty Pounder = 8/10 

The hop presence is unmistakable. It's nose reveals almost every PNW hop aroma you can fathom; I picked up on the pine, resin and pomelos. Is it possible to smell with your tongue? Your tongue senses the hop flavours before they arrive. The heavy bready, malt base provides ample sweetness to deliver this burning hop wash to your stomach. I might go and grab a TUMS. This might sound unflavourable, but in actuality it is not. The drinkability of this double digit IBU beverage is surprising. Your tongue never really loses its sweet citrus coating/numbing. This might do well with a bit of aging.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1 (barely)
Appearance +1 always great art

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bottle Rocket ISA (Phillips)

It is a rare occurrence that I buy a six back of beer. It's a beer ticker thing. I am glad I did, this is a pretty decent beer. While it may be a copycat of another style, it is a welcome trend. We need more highly hopped, lower ABV beers. It is nice to get all those PNW hops flavours and still be able to feel our noses. I would still call a brew sessionable only if it was under 5% ABV.


Bottle Rocket ISA = 7/10

This brew is more than just Blue Buck malts with Hop Circle hops. Everything you want is there: floral citrus nose with a hint of pine. You might want to pour it into a glass to get all that. It sips with a decent chewy astringency. The malts are bready sweet and the hops are bright with multi-citrus and pine flavoured gumdrops. This beer is not a flavour powerhouse, but I am sad that my six pack is gone. It was lightly challenging on the palate and enjoyable.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5% ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice can art and good description of beer flavour)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blackstone Porter - Driftwood

I gotta get these backlogged reviews underway.
Part 1 - The Rant. Driftwood has always been putting out awesome stuff, but there is not much really new. Every year we get the Sartori (yay) and the Old Cellar Dwellar (double yay) and a sour (BOORAH). But it is all getting a little predictable. The only thing new this year was the demonic Son of the Morning. I think that beer is still on the shelves, which tells you something. The T-shirt was great. Luckily we will never get tired of drinking Fat Tug.
Part 2 - More Rant - I tried the Singularity 2013. Sad to say I got an infected bottle. It tasted like jolly rancher candies and nail polish; oxidation gone wrong. I can forgive a bad bottle and try another, but not at $11 a pop.

Blackstone Porter = 7/10

A spot on porter nose always brings joy. Roasted Fry's cocoa tins, bittersweet chocolate and fruit infused coffee. The sip continues unchanged with minimal roast and a pleasant astringency. This porter is just thick enough to lengthen the flavour until you desire another taste. Your cravings draw you in quickly thereafter. The ending is cocoa powdery and dry. Well done.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always great art and description of flavour)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Leviathan Milk Stout (Phillips)

I like a good milk stout. They were brewed to be healthy for you. This was back in the day when English brewers were doing their darnedest to give beer the appearance of a healthy beverage. Milk was good for you, so but milk in beer and it would also be good for you. Sounds right to me. The modern day milk/sweet stout doesn't contain milk. However, it does contain lactose. This lactose is undigestable by beer yeast and remains to provide a thick and sweet flavour. The classic example is Mackeson Stout which clocks in at a whopping 3.0% ABV. Left Hand Brewing makes a great milk stout. So how does the Leviathan Milk Stout by Phillips stack up?


Leviathan Milk Stout = 6/10

There were lots of roasted grains on the nose with only the slightest of milk chocolate. A light to medium mouthfeel is unaffected by low carbonation and only a slight creaminess coated the tongue. Sadly lactose sweetness is present but rather lacking. What you do taste is cola, nutty pecans, mild caramel and roasted nuts. The aftertaste is pleasant with dry cocoa and milk chocolate. I think it is a tad high in the ABV and roasted tastes but low in the lactose flavours to be called a milk stout. It's a darn tasty beverage none the less. And hey, some money is going to save the whales.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5% (a tad high)
Value +1 almost a zero
Appearance +1 it's for charity and nice label art

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Swan's Legacy Ale (Barley Wine)

Andrew at Swan's was a little late this year with his barley wine release. It was with good reason; the Legacy Ale was aging in a tank for eight months. Patience pays off.

Legacy Ale (Swan's) = 10/10

Barley wines in Victoria range from painful to bland; this one falls perfectly in the middle. There is enough sherry, sweet raisins, dark fruits and earthy hops to make your nose happy. The body is assertive, yet sippable and creamy without being overly warming. Each sip is complex enough to appeal to everyone. The first time barley wine drinker will enjoy the warming alcohol attack with dark fruits, raisins and hints of chocolate. The beer geek will love oxidation gone right with sherry notes and challenging earthy and herbal hops. Everyone's palate will be pleased by the long finish of syrupy raisins and warm sherry. There is enough complexity that cellaring will improve flavours. Do not delay, this is a very limited release.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Just bonus points to get up to 10 points)

Upcoming Trappist Beer School, Feburary 17th

The next beer school is called: "Trappist Triumph; Take Monday off." This school is in honour of a virtual friend that I will be meeting in real life. So we shall have all seven original Trappist beers in the same room, at the some time. This is a rare occurrence for anywhere in the world; other than perhaps Belgium.

Email in early to reserve your spot,Sunday, February 17th, 7:30ish at Clive's Classic Lounge in the Chateau Victoria. Here is a list of the beers to be sampled:

1. Achel - a Belgian Blonde
2. Orval - the classic
3. Chimay White
4. Westmalle Dubbel
5. Rochefort 8
6. La Trappe Tripel
7. TOP SECRET - and no, it is not the one you are thinking of

As always you are there to learn. There will be history, glassware lessons, food pairing suggestions, a cheese plate to nibble on and prizes. The same format as always: bring a pen, your palate and $30. The cost is higher this time due to expense of adding extra and expensive beers.  Email me or leave a comment to reserve your spot. There will be only 17 spots for this event. Do not delay as this school is already half full.

Please forward this to any other craft beer loving friends who might like to attend. As always plan for a safe trip home.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again,
Ian
www.left4beer.com