Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Category 12 first two beers

Most of us have heard rumblings of this new brewery in town called Category 12. They are on Keating Cross Road with a little tasting room and growler fill station. You can read all about them in Eat Magazine. There are currently two beers available, a saison and a black IPA. You can find kegs around Victoria, including this cool place called The Drake. So how do they taste?

Unsanctioned Saison = 6/10


It started off great. There was a slight spiciness that came from both hop and yeast. You could also detect a funky earth aroma with ginger. It was surprisingly hoppy with more of that spicy floral and earthiness. The malts got a little funny, perhaps a bit underattenuated. It tasted grainy, mushy and chewy, not crisp and dry as expected. Perhaps I was hoping for local Saison Dupont. Still, I would order another.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.9%
Value +1
Appearance +1 good description of beer flavour, not keen on the word sessionable for a 6.9% beer

Glassware: Something clean. I would use a pokal tulip.

Food Pairings: Cheese would be a wash rind goat. Something light and spicy would go well. Perhaps lamb chops with a mildly spicy pepper glaze.

Cellar: nope

Disruption Black IPA = 9/10

I was getting a little worried until I tasted the Black IPA. This dark brew hits all the marks. A grapefruit citrus and piney hop aroma can be smelled one table over. It has a griping astringency that is partially kilned malts and partially hops. Imagine what a black IPA should taste like and this is it. Balanced parts of bittersweet chocolate, espresso, over done toast with marmalade and sweet grapefruit rind. Not over the top, but just right.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 6.7%
Value +1 delicious
Appearance +1 (a fitting description of flavour)

Glassware: A nice, big pint glass thank you.

Food Pairings: Something bold and roasted. A grilled portobello mushroom burger with blue cheese. As for the cheese, make it a well aged cheddar.

Cellar: Nope

Thursday, December 11, 2014

52 Foot Stout by Barkerville

People, I have finally hit it big time. This is a commissioned/requested beer review. Before you get all excited and start blogging for free beer and fame, you might want to learn the reality. I had to buy half the beer for this posting and my payment might be a pint. Still, it is nice to be noticed.

Anyone who has frequented any place that sells beer has probably seen a bottle from Barkerville Brewing. They have super pretty bottles and prominent placing. The beers have been getting some good reviews, ask my friend Chuck. Barkerville seems to be following the standard formula: make a blonde, make a pale, make a brown and make an IPA (English). But what I'm talking about is the stout. Enough of my ramblings how does the 52 Foot Stout taste?

52 Foot Stout = 8/10 (Fresh bottle) 


It's a good stout, one the best in BC. I'm not just saying that because I've been commissioned; it's good. The nose hits all the marks, roasted coffee beans, dry cocoa and light berries. 52 Stout has a slight cola astringency with a medium mouthfeel. There is a notable presence of Mexican drinking chocolate dryness, mixed with assertive roasted pencils, old coffee and blackberries. Sadly, this all fades away too quickly.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: A snifter or pint will be. Just make sure it is clean: Brian is watching.

Food Pairings: Would do well with a meaty, roasted dish or even dessert. Imagine the 52 Stout with tiramisu.

Cheese: Let the roasted character mingle with a smoked Gouda for fun.

Cellar: Maybe, see below.

I was also asked to determine if this beer might cellar. This is a tough one as the other beer provided was only 6 months old and storage was not controlled. There are many things determine if a beer will age well. Most notable with the 52 Stout are: alcohol content is a little low (7%), beta acid content of hops is OK, malt complexity is good and will prominent roasted flavour morph into something new. Will this beer change over time? Most certainly yes, even just six months of aging produced a noticeable reduction in the roasted aroma and flavour. With this diminished roast more syrupy wood and berry flavours came forward.Will this beer improve? Hard to tell, this is personal thing. I quite enjoyed the roasted character, so aging this beer might not appeal to me. However, if you are bittersweet chocolate and berry person, this might be something you might want to put away. Maybe I will put a few in the back for fun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Entangled by Driftwood

You all know I have this thing against made up beer styles. They appeal to me about as much as flavoured porters. I don't like change. Perhaps Mark Twain was referring to me when he penned his famous change quote. It might have been my family that bought me this beer. My little one picks bottles based upon labels; she might have thought this beer was a Disney tie-in. Entangled is a hopfenweisse or hoppy wheat beer. Let's call this beer Fat Tug Wheat or FTW for short. I can see why she was attracted to the label. My choice for best packaged beer of 2014 was just decided. Those Hired Guns kids make some elegant designs. Anyways, back to the Fat Tug theme. Last month we sampled Fat Tug lite. Perhaps Driftwood might do a Fat Tug Black, a.k.a. American-style Black Ale/Cascadian/ Black IPA. This I could get behind; might even buy more than one. Enough of my rambling, how does the FTW taste?


Entangled = 8/10

Those who buy too much beer will find similarities between FTW and the Brooklyn/Schneider collaboration beer. Both smelled of potency in the spicy, floral, citrus hop department. There was not a lot of wheat in the nose, just the hops. Wheat became noticeable in the sip, it tempered the anticipated IPA astringency with a tongue caressing creamy texture. Most beer drinkers in Victoria have a collection of dedicated brain cells responsible for recognizing the taste of Fat Tug. Imagine this flavour mixed with cream of wheat and bread. The ending was the expected long linger of spicy wheat and citrus. I'm starting to warm up to the idea of made up beer styles.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Should be a weisse glass.

Food pairings: Hard with fusion beers; perhaps fusion food is in order. Try this next to a breaded salmon with lemon glaze. I might ask for a lemon and Seville orange risotto.

Cellar: Nope, it's all about the fresh hops.

Cheese: This is a new category. 2015 will be the year of cheese. An aged sheep's cheese, sharp cheddar or aged Gloucester should have enough strength to balance this potent beer.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mile High Mountain Ale - Vancouver Island Brewery

This is the first, or maybe second, beer VIB has released since it sacked most of it's beer geek employees. Maybe the Bohemian Pilsner was first. Many of us in the beer geek community were worried about all those passionate beer drinkers displaced by this shake-up. No worries, most have found jobs in the local craft beer industry. The label of the Mile High reads ,"blahblah blah hop forward, Northwest-style blahblah blah dry-hopped aroma... blahblah blah sessionable ale." Marketing certainly hit all the popular key words that resonate with craft beer. Sadly this beer did not live up to any of these claims, except for the Northwest part. I could neither taste, not smell any forward hops and sessionable is below 5%. Is there a false advertising law that applies to craft beer?

Mile High Mountain Ale = 3/10

Mile High is beer; that is all. It is a reasonably well crafted beer. I thought it tasted like a slightly maltier Piper's. The nose was a pleasant mix of bread crusts and raisins. A high carbonation sip delivered a medium to full body that was slightly cooling. Each sip added nothing new: slightly fruity, raisins, dark grapes, prunes and a vague hop bitterness. It finished relatively clean with an earthy lager character. Once it warmed up though, there was a bit of the D-bomb approaching. Certainly a very calm beer that will appeal to the masses. Not another Sabotage brew that pushed VIBs beer reputation higher.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +0 5.9%
Value +1 (it's not bad, just not exciting)
Appearance -1 (label looks like it was made an unemployed cartoon artist and the description was no way close to the taste)

Glassware: Any clean pint glass will do. Yes, you Brian.

Food Pairings: Meaty, calm foods would be idea. Try with a pulled pork sandwich.

Cellar: Nope

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Growth Pale Ale by Driftwood

One of the purposes of a blog is to educate. I must think of something because this beer review is going to be very short. Let's talk about hops. This is the first time I have seen the Newport hop used. It might be used but no brewery has mentioned it. Newport is a hop developed by the USDA as a mildew resistant substitute for Galena. If I remember correctly Vancouver Island Brewery uses Galena. Newport is a mix of Brewers Gold, Hallertauer M, Late Grape, Belgium 31 and Fuggles. Rogue uses this hop quite a bit; its in XS Imperial I2PA, Santa's Reserve, Dad's little helper black IPA and more. Which makes sense because all these beer are bitter as @#$#. This bitterness is due to a very high alpha acid content present in Newport. So how did the beer that some people are referring to as 'Diet Tug' or 'Tug Lite' taste?

New Growth = 6/10

Spicy and pine flavours are the order of the day. That's it. It reminded me of nasturtium. There is a little cracker and white bread malts. This brew is quite bitter and peppery. I found it a little bitter for a pale ale, but it is suitable for our PNW desires.

Taste +_3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0  5%ABV
Value +1 (worth the price)
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Glassware: Whatever you got. Just as long as it is clean, right Brian?

Food Pairings: This is quite difficult to pair as it is very piney and bitter. Might be nice to counter with mango sweetness and fatty shrimp. Go for the uber-bitter-party with an arugula salad with blue cheese.

Cellar: Might be interesting because Newport has a good beta hop content, but malt complexity is lacking.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seaport Vanilla Stout and Beer Fairies

I love beer fairies. There are very few perks to being a beer blogger. Other than the fame and glory, there is not much else. There is no fortune, there is constant abuse and people loosely borrow your format. Perhaps I should be flattered. Every so often, free stuff comes my way. This was my lucky day, I came home to free beer on my doorstep! A wise and daring enigma left this bountiful box for me. I feel obligated to do a review as the accompanying press releases called me a 'champion of craft beer.' Actually it called everyone who got a box the same thing.
I do not have a degree in marketing, nor a degree in economics, nor a degree in behavioral psychology. These defects do not allow me to critique the new packaging. However, Mrs. Left4Beer very much liked the new packaging and found the iconic/naval signal flag theme appealing. Perhaps this is mission accomplished. With the trend in beer packaging to more elaborate and flashy packaging, the simplistic and iconic style of Lighthouse is refreshing. I really like the bottle caps. If there was a T-shirt available I would wear it proudly. hint..hint. This blog is more concerned about what is inside.

Seaport Vanilla Stout = 8/10


I liked this beer, and not because it was free. Perhaps I am wrong, but this tastes a lot like Keepers Stout with added vanilla. The nose started off with a hint of earthy vanilla, a dusting of chocolate and traces of well seasoned coffee. A friend of mine brought me a very elegantly worded tap list from the Mute Swan Pub. This list might have influenced that first sentence. Each full and creamy sip peels away layers of roasted astringency, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and homemade vanilla ice cream. Yah, that tap list influenced me a lot. This beer is good. Tastes like Keepers with Madagascar vanilla. Which is great because every Victorian beer drinker secretly hopes they will get a case of Keepers for their birthday. I know I do, hint, hint. Even better an advent calendar that has a Keepers everyday, with a Shipwreck IPA on Friday. Shipwreck is the new name for SwitchBack IPA.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 I like the box! Ummm nice new packaging?

Glassware: A snifter if you are feeling fancy, or a nonic if you are in a hurry. Or a La Chouffe glass if you made a super-awesome thrift store find!

Food Pairings: Dessert all the way. A flour-less chocolate brownie with whipped cream would be delightful. Ribs with smoky vanilla BBQ sauce might overload the vanilla pleasure spot in your brain. If you want to try something messed up, may I suggest stew heavy on the chili powder.

Cellar: Yes, in mine. Trust me, I will keep it safe.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Drinking beer helps men at high risk of heart disease

I admit the title is a bit of a stretch, but I needed to hook you in somehow. The title should read, "Polyphenols in beer reduce atherosclerotic biomarkers in high cardiovascular risk men." The previous title is less likely to cause drowsiness. A study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases gave 36 older men free beer, alcohol free beer or gin. It is known that polyphenols and alcohol in fermented
beverages reduce the risk of heart disease. This study intended to determine what parts helped what.
Atherosclerosis is a low grade, inflammatory disease that leads to plaque build up in arteries. These lucky guys were given a daily dose of either beer (660ml with 30gm ethanol and 1209mg polyphenols), alcohol free beer (similar polyphenol count) or gin (30gm ethanol and no polyphenols). After four weeks, these guys 'donated' a crap tonne of blood and all sorts of cardiovascular disease biomarkers were measured.
What the researchers found was that the polyphenols and alcohol affected their health in different ways. The
alcoholic beer and gin increased good HDL cholesterol and reduced fibrinogen (blood clotting factor), but the alcohol free beer did not. Yay booze. Only the alcohol free beer increased folic acid and lowered homocysteine (heart disease risk marker). Yay vitamins, boo booze. Systolic blood pressure also decreased with alcohol free beer. Yay polyphenols, boo alcohol. Both beer and alcohol free beer reduced leukocyte expression of adhesion molecules (trust me this stuff is bad news). Yay polyphenols.
So what does this mean for beer drinkers? Drink dark beer (rich in polyphenols) with ample hops (flavonoids) and low in alcohol. Can you say stouts or session strength Cascadian dark ale? Hope I don't get sued for that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moon Under Water Maxminer's Altbier

Sticking with the Moon's signature brewing style we have another German influenced beer; the altbier. This is also another collaboration, which is something Clay and crew do a lot of.  Altbier means 'old beer', which could be applied to almost every German and European style of beer. When one mentions altbier, they are generally referring to a dark, lagered ale from Düsseldorf. Think of this as a dark Kolsch. Typically the alt style expresses some dark ale characteristics: caramel, dark fruits with a mild hop floral and spiciness. Extended cold conditioning (lagering) tends to smooth out the edges and cleans up the finish. How does the Maxminer stack up? Brilliantly.

Maxminer's Altbier =7/10


The nose is a tad restrained but enough clean, caramel maltiness floats up. There might be a little floral spiciness too. Alt beers are never flavour powerhouses. Each sip is clean with great balance between tame chocolate, caramel, bread, raisins and floral/spicy noble hops. True to form is hits all the marks and just tastes... well, good. The finish holds a slight tongue coating of sweet caramel. A very enjoyable beer, sadly it is only a seasonal.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.3%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always better from a growler in a proper glass)

Glassware: The altbier uses the stange style glass, but generally it is a bit larger (330ml). I picked this smaller size because it said 'Alt'. You could also pick a Willibecher.

Food Pairings: Anything caramelized and restrained in flavour will pair nicely. Would work well with grilled chicken, all things pork or a BBQ portabello mushroom burger. Mushroom caps with young Gouda sounds darn tasty.

Cellar: Nope

Monday, October 6, 2014

Playing catch up August and September

People think blogging is easy; it is not. It pains me to drink all these great local beers and fire off my opinions. The research involved can take hours: looking up facts, consult other tasting notes and determining impact upon local beer scene. Hah, who am I kidding - blogging is easy. I am just lazy. Plans are made, notes are taken but the world conspires against me. Sometimes it is a Herculean task to raise myself from the couch. Binge watching NCIS with Mrs. Left4Beer is quite enjoyable after a pint - or two. Agent Gibbs is the worlds most dangerous man.
Impressive procrastination require creative solutions. Maybe I should try a stream of consciousness approach to beer reviews. Let the stream begin. Sounds like I just faced off with the urinal.
Octofox from Phillips was a usual release from the boys and girls on Government street. It was a well done bomber of hoppy goodness. This one was more on the tropical side: mangoes, pineapple and caramel apples. When I think about, has any new Phillips release been anything but hoppy?  I'm not talking about the revisited favourites like the Rifflandia beer. The Kangarooster keg was another hoppy American IPA. I'm sure this scary clown beer will also be a hop bomb too. Let's give the Octofox a seven; it was darn tasty. The Kangarooster beer gets a four. There was a bit of funk in there that might not have been intentional. I might not drink the scary clown beer, I have this thing against buying six packs. Maybe it will be on tap at the Drake. On my shopping list there will most certainly be the Gerry Hieter Cherry Ale. Why are there all these Phillips releases all of a sudden? Oh right... The advent calendar. There was an article in the Boulevard magazine with Matt Phillips which stated that each beer would be different.
Who else released beer this week. Not sure about Spinnakers, there have been no emails from them lately. Either they have nothing to say or no one is handling the media emails. Could be both. In the past, I have visited the historic waterfront brewpub and found new beers on tap with no press release. The coffee and spoke beer comes to mind. Mind you, this was a few months ago.This might have been the first cold brewed coffee beer produced in Victoria. Cold brew coffee is proper; it showcases a good quality bean.
What else have I drank this week? Road Trip by Lighthouse was nice. A fresh hopped beer that is not an IPA/PA is refreshing. Sadly the American brown style Road Trip does not really display the fresh hop goodness well. It does makes for a tasty, juicy hop beer. This one gets an eight; pair it will roast (either vegan or flesh) and gravy. Glass? Anything pretty will do. I should insert a picture in here soon... There - perfect.
This photo brings me to my next beer: BenchWarmer by Moon Under Water. This beer is fricken great. Well done John Adair and Jeff! This blonde brew packs lots of cereal and oat malts with understated flowery and spicy hops. There is a bit of lemon citrus for good measure. This beer gets a nine! Definitely serve in a Star Wars glass. Pair with a lemon breaded trout or any creamy pasta. This might even go well with a Hollandaise sauce. I can't wait to try the Moon's other collaboration with Molsons. There is more to this story, but Altbier is a good ending.
I forgot to mention the fresh hopped beers. Satori was awesome, as usual.Was a little disappointment with the Wolf Vine this year. It smelled and tasted like wet dog. Looking forward to the Phillips fresh hop release in Mid October; doesn't seem very fresh thought. Didn't this same thing happen a few years ago?
There. I'm all caught up, you figure out your own pairing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Phillips 13 Knot Anniversary


I have seen some great marketing ideas during my blogging days. There have beers in pine boxes. One litre sized cans in a German stein was nice. Glow in the dark labels are fun. Bottles hand wrapped in paper are very elegant. No one can deny the pull of an Advent Calendar full of beer. This marketing idea by Phillips almost tops them all. Who can pass up an drink combination that could be called the PNW boilermaker? An imperial IPA with a side of liqueur, this is great. Reminds me of something the legendary Bert Grant was rumoured to have done. He would place a few drops of hop oil extract into any beer he was drinking if it was deemed underhopped. There is a nice write up about the pricing and legality on Brian's Blog. So how does this marketing gimmick taste?

Phillips 13 Knot = 8/10

This review will be in three parts; IPA only, liqueur only and both together. Perhaps we should start with the best part, the Hop Drop liqueur. I am certainly not an expert on spirits, but this hop drop is darn tasty. The favour is similar to a dry hopped mezcal. Ample honey sweetness and smooth with a slight pine and citrus addition. Very nice. This the best part of the package. Drink the spirit, trade the beer.

The Impy IPA on its own tastes like any other Phillips hop bomb. It reminded me like last years anniversary IPA and the year before last years. A beverage sure to please the hop heads in BC. Massive hop bitterness that is a mix of key limes, grass, pine and tropical fruits. The acidic mouthfeel feels like you did a face plant into a pile of pine needles. Once the initial attack fades, there is a lot of flavours to work through. There is cotton candy, pine sol, geraniums, pie crusts (Thanks Brian), and bread dough.

The two parts together make it a quite syrupy sip with acetone vapours. It almost becomes hard to taste anything, but there are whole wheat croissants, pine resin and a citrus fruit basket.

Interesting fact: It is illegal in some states to display a noose. 

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (11.8 or 13%)
Value +1 (the liqueur is worth the cost)
Appearance +1 Great packaging

Glassware: Definitely a tulip.

Food Pairings: I honestly can't think of any food that could stand up to this exorbitantly hopped beverage.

Cellar: Maybe, since I plan to have a few bottles left over.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thoughts and rants on GCBF

Last year someone mentioned that there was no Beer Fest thoughts by a local blogger. There was a reason for this; it is our time to enjoy, be with friends and relax. No thinking, no analysis just enjoy some great local beer. Lucky for you I have no friends and can't learn to relax. Here are my thoughts about this years Great Canadian Beer Fest.

The food looks great this year. There are two regulars (Ali Baba Pizza and that delicious Caribbean place) and four food trucks. Thank you food trucks! Menus are posted on-line so you can plan ahead.

I'm assuming there will be lots of awesome volunteers, great musicians and entertainers. I wonder if that guy in the Mad Hatter outfit will be doing card tricks again. But enough of that; let's talk about the beer.

CASKS

In previous years the local brewers have delivered lackluster casks, with the exception of Lighthouse, Moon and Swan's. Many of the other casks in attendance were a dry-hopped regular beer. That is not a cask, it's an afterthought. This year, we cask people are in for a treat. Of the 40 casks that I noticed, there were only three that mentioned they were dry hopped regular beers. Twenty two casks did not mention anything unique about ingredients or yeasts. To me this says beer in steel barrel and put on counter to look good. While the remaining fifteen noted a unique brewing technique or ingredient addition. Top cask picks in no particular order
- Central City - Impy IPA collaboration with Ninkasi, P49, Gigantic aged in Cognac and Bourbon barrels
- Driftwood Singularity - Extra long boil them matured in Makers Mark bourbon barrels
- Lighthouse Currant Event - Soured with whacky yeast collection for nine months with additions of black currents, wheat, spelt, rye
- Moon x2 - Anniversary ale with grape juice on oak and Berliner with raspberry and Brett.
- P49 - Sour red ale in French oak for 18 months. Now that is planning
- Townsite - Kombuca wheat. This one sounds interesting.
These casks will be available on Friday. It should be sadly noted that Tofino will not have a cask at beer fest. Their spruce tip IPA last year was stellar.

New Breweries

I noticed 14 new BC breweries in attendance at this years beer fest. This is only 1/2 of the number of new breweries that opened in 2014, according to Jan Zeschky. I plan to check out the ones that are furtherest from: Three Ranges (Valemont) and Wheelhouse (Prince Rupert). True, Barkerville brewing is far away in Quesnel, but their beers are readily available in Victoria. The list of new beers to try is daunting, but here are my picks:
- Brassneck Magic Beans - Brown ale with cold brewed coffee
- Canoe Rye IPA - brewed in collaberation with Gerry Hieter.
- Cider Riot from Portland - everything
- Deep Cove - patersbier
- Fuggles and Warlock - Black Rye IPA (the name says it all)
- Green Leaf Acid Trip - Berliner weiss
- Three Ranges Red Ale
- 33 Acres Seasonal (unnamed at time of GCBF listings) perhaps Axel M or Schol.

US Pavilion
Most of the US breweries will be nestled within their own little enclave, with exception of Cider Riot from Portland. This area will be a mix of must and must not try beers. There are a large portion of these beers you can currently find on store shelves in Victoria. While the masses are lined up to try Stone's IPA, Fat Tire or 90 Minute IPA check out these hidden gems:
- Caldera Brewing IPA
- Kulshan Brewing IPA
- Saugatuck Milk Stout
- 90 Minute IPA - yah it's worth the wait.
- New Holland - Dragon's Milk Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged HELLO!


Hopefully attendees will explore new beer options and not just drink stuff they can find on tap anywhere. Of the local stuff here are the items I am looking forward to trying:
- Big Rock Rhine Stone Cowboy Kolsch - Yes Big Rock. I had a sample of this Kolsch and found it very nice
- Lighthouse new Pilsner (Yes the Pilsner market it saturated but not many are any good)
- Longwood Ginseng - Just for an Untappd tick and giggles
- Old Yale Sasquatch Stout - this beer is great. 2014 BC beer of the year. Maybe Old Yale should mention this on their website
- Steel and Oak red pilsner - sounds like a nice twist
- Water from the cooler. Must stay hydrated

See you all there. I will be the one in my usual blue Hawaiian shirt.


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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sabotage - Vancouver Island Brewery

Can there be trends in beer? There most certainly are. Brewers can use the hippest new hops (Citra, Amarillo, southern hemisphere), brewpubs can host tap takeovers or they can brew an India session ale. Other trendy things to do include putting your beers in tall boy cans or brewing a black anything (black IPA, black saison, black lager). Regardless, I digress. Even though I forgot to mention the act of filling multiple sizes of growlers. Back to the India session ale. Certainly this beer style was born from the desire to have a hoppy beer but still be able to function and operate heavy machinery. A session ale does not have a defined ABV strength or even a style. Let's call it the opposite of imperial. So a session IPA will be the flip side mirror image of an imperial IPA. My definition of a session beer has an ABV that hovers near the 4% mark. My hero Stephen Beaumont has similar views. This means Spinnakers Swiftsure almost qualifies (4.5%), Phillips Bottle Rocket ISA certainly does not (5%), but the Central City ISA certain does (4% ABV). The Sabotage does not come close at 4.8% ABV. Another complaint of people who drink ISA is that they taste weak or thin. This -made up-  style of beer has a low ABV and an attenuated malt profile. Perhaps this weakness perception is due to preconceived thoughts of all beers that contain the word "India". We see the word India, then smell the big hop nose and expect a malt and alcohol slap to the forehead. Our expectations are unfulfilled and we blog that this beer tastes weak. Well too bad. Some of us want to drink a few hoppy pints and still be able to operate heavy machinery. DISCLAIMER, the only heavy machine I operate after a few pints is my PC. Sometimes that is not such a good idea. Ok, so what does this beer prick think about the Sabotage ISA?

Sabotage = 7/10


The nose contains that composite of PNW C hops that we have been conditioned to seek out. There is a slight grassiness as the beer warms up; Kendrew is this beer dry hopped? There are equal parts sweet pine, vague citrus and slight floral spiciness. A meager graham cracker graininess is also present in the aroma. Mouthfeel for a session ale is often disappointing, but this is not a session ale so the mouthfeel is pleasantly thin to full. Each sip is fairly linear and parallels the nose. Some have mentioned a slight sulfur aroma, but it's not an issue. The linger is slightly slick but carries the citrus hop bite nicely. Nicely done, even thought it is not really a session ale.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 4.8% (If you call it a session ale make it low ABV)
Value +1 it's nice.
Appearance +1 nice label art and reasonable description of flavour. Yes, I know it is a growler, but I stared at the art while it was being filled.

Glassware: You can be a DB like me and buy a IPA specific glass (in photo). This is not necessary, grab a tulip or flared pokal. Nevermind the knowledge of what a flared pokal indicates DB tendencies.

Food Pairings: This would pair with almost anything. It would go well with spicy Szechuan, the hops would make the spiciness even hotter. Remember there is little malt backbone to calm the spices. Maybe an aged cheddar and pasta would be nice. How about a cedar planed salmon with calamansi reduction glaze?

Cellar:NOPE

This author discloses that he received a complimentary growler fill. Thanks Kendrew and Rob. If this beer was not up to standards I would still report as such. But it is dang tasty, even though it is not sessional. VOTE WEST COAST COMMON.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dragonfly Rye Saison by Spinnakers

I have been a little lazy with beer reviews. Luckily there have not been too many. Other good beers this week include the Lighthouse Strath 100 and Phillips Barrel Aged Rauch.
This is the latest beer release by Spinnakers. Did have one little peeve with my experience at Spinnakers. I brought my growler in for a fill of the Irish Stout. It was on the draft list, but not on the growler fill list so the nice lady behind the counter said I couldn't get any. If only she mentioned that I had to walk upstairs to get my fill of Irish Stout, I would have been a happy blogger. This was partially my fault, because it is mentioned in the email newsletter Spinnakers sends out. I always forget to read the fine print. Anyways back to the beer.
We need more rye in beer.  It adds a great dry, grainy and spicy character. This ingredient is also helpful in head formation. Rye is unfairly considered an adjunct in brewing, just like corn, sugar, caramel, potatoes and spices. Basically if it is not malted barley, it is considered an adjunct. Which I think is unfair. Imagine lumping rye and oats together with corn syrup? Let's instead call it a superawesome unappreciated brewing grain, or SUBG for brevity. Enough ranting, how was the beer?

Dragonfly Rye Saison =7/10

The initial aroma announces rye with its characteristic grainy and spicy scent. This blended nicely with the spices from the saison yeast. Each sip is creamy with that rye spice, slightly juicy with minor earthy hops. The rye does dominate the flavour but doesn't overpower. It brings out the flight fruitiness and lingers just longer enough. Very nice. 

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Tulip or my favourite slightly bowled pokal

Food Pairings: This would be nice with Thai food. The spicy characters would blend nicely. A nice Welsh rarebit with rye bread and sharp cheddar would resonate with saison's flavours.

Cellar: Nope, drink it fresh

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rock Bay Mash Up - Driftwood/Hoyne

I have predicted a local Victoria brewery collaboration for years. If you keep making the same prediction year, after year eventually it will happen. This collaboration was no surprise as Driftwood and Hoyne share the same parking lot. Wonder why it took almost two years for this to happen? Hopefully this will become a regular event. Local brewers must realize, that while they are friendly competitors, the bigger prize they all chase is the massive 80%+ market share owned the the big breweries. Working together will reduce this domination quicker.
Everyone knows that I am dedicated follower of classic beer styles. The Baltic porter is a style influenced by the imperial stouts on route to Russia. Much of this thick English brew passed through the sea ports of Estonia and Latvia. Naturally, local brewers prepared recipes to hopefully gain favour of the Russian imperial court. The lagered Baltic porter was born. I love a good Baltic porter. There are two that stick out in my mind: Black Boss and Baltika 6. Both of these beverages are to be purchased on sight. Maybe I should trademark that phrase, "Purchase on sight", POS for short. Nah.. might get confused with Point of Sale or Piece of ... something.
Anyways, the style should be thick like oatmeal, clean like a sanitized toilet yet fruity as an episode of "Will and Grace". What did the Cicerone Certified (R), BJCP Judge think of this mash up? By the way, I don't think the 8% ABV listing is accurate.

Rock Bay Mash Up = 6/10

The nose is unassuming with only mild hints of roast. I hoped to enjoy some thick lager characters and milk chocolate. A dark brown wash hits the tongue with an initial alcohol burn mixed with toast and Nutella. Anticipated dark berries were replaced by twinges of green apple. The mouthfeel was almost there but the thinness made things end too quickly.
Looking back, this review sounds terrible. It is rather unfair. Label this beer an extra robust porter or a foreign stout and call it even. Memories of the past flavours taint the present. I was hoping to sit down with a ridiculously underpriced bottle of Baltika 6 to relive a glorious past. Instead I got an almost $10 bottle of beer that didn't live up to expectations. The bar was set pretty high. Get out there, buy this beer. It is tasty. Just don't compare it to Black Boss, Baltika 6 or that stellar Les Trois Mousquetaires version.

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0 (it just ended)
Alcohol Content +1 8% (Does anyone have a refractometer I can borrow?)
Value +1 (only for the mash up part)
Appearance +1 Awesome label Julie

Glassware: No real traditional style here. Use a tulip or snifter. For goodness sakes don't serve me a Baltic porter, or any strong beer, in a pint glass.

Food Pairings: Grab a thick tofu steak and go at it.

Cellar: If there was yeast on board, I'd say let it age to eat up that green apple. Otherwise nope.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sauerteig Farmhouse Ale by Lighthouse

I love stealth marketing. This beer just appeared before my eyes in some backwater CBAW. It wasn't really backwater, just Maude Hunters.This bottle was wedged next to all the releases you thought were sold out like Bird of Prey, Road Trip and Old Cellar Dweller. They even had a cask of Russell brewing on the bar. There was only a minor mention of this on the specials chalk board. My server never even mentioned it. Too bad, I would have liked to try it.
Anyways back to the beer. The farmhouse/saison style beer is a style where almost anything is appropriate. As long as you use some wheat and an appropriate yeast, things are good. Between fits of coughing, Dean elaborated on this beer, "[it was] brewered as a saison with as many bakery ingredients as we could through at it, including huge tubs of of rye sourdough starter made for us by Byron Fry. Sweet and a touch sour with a little rye spiciness, this one's for more general audience than a truly sour or bretty beer would be." Collaberations are great, especially with other craft food vendors like Fry's Red Wheat Bread. A beer with a sourdough starter and rye? What did this beer prick think?

Sauerteig = 8/10

You could tell there was some funky yeast action with the barnyard smell and the multitude of little bubbles that comprised the head. The nose also presented hints of athletes foot, wheat, peppery rye and lemons. My first impression of the sip was that this tastes rather like a Berliner Weisse. I tried to homebrew a Berliner Weisse once. The sauerteig tastes way better than my homebrew. Each sip is juicy and sweet with lemons, sourdough bread and Seville oranges. The ending gives a dry finish that speaks of rye. Did I mention the tart barnyard sourness that carries all the way through? It was not a mouth puckering sour; Mrs. Left4beer called it a beginner sour. Not an overly complex beer, but interesting enough to keep you coming back.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Boring label but good description of beer. Would have been nice if QR code linked to more information about beer)

Glassware: Tulip.

Food Pairings: I really wish there was some wash rind cheese in the fridge. A pasta with tonnes of pecorino cheese would be great.

Cellar: nope. Sour character might develop more.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I will be doing the Victoria Beer Week

Depending what rock you reside under, you might have missed the announcements for Victoria Beer Week. Naturally all the big ticket events are cherry picked and full. If you want to go the the cask festival Saturday night, check usedvictoria.com for tickets. However, there are some events that are overlooked. Ken Beattie from Eureka Beer Guide with be doing a few beer schools on Sunday at Vancouver Island Brewery. He gives a great talk and there are still tickets for cheap. He might be serving beer during his lecture. Something I am looking forward to is the Michael Jackson documentary. Not the king of pop, the other MJ aka. The Beer Hunter. They will be serving beers from two new breweries (Bomber and Barkerville). There is also a shuttle from downtown to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.  On Wednesday, there is a cask from Lighthouse (Dean's casks are the best) and a new release from Canoe Club. You can also drink beer in the Vic Theatre and watch Strange Brew on Sunday night. Despite a website that is riddled with typos, there is still lots to see at Victoria Beer Week. Even the Gorge Point Pub will be doing craft beer flights? For those who are Untappd freaks, there are many sampling events are CBAW stores.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Helios by Hoyne Brewing

Excitement often fills my boots when there is a new beer release in town. Will it be a sour? barrel aged? imperial something-or-other? perhaps exotic hops? The excitement faded quickly when I read the description on the Hoyne release; Dortmunder style. Perhaps I should explain. The Dortmunder style originates for the industrial city of Dortmund, Westphalia. It is your standard German light lager. Slightly tasty, mildly sweet, yet very clean. The classic example is that DAB can that is found everywhere. The most exciting thing about DAB is the can. You could fit the full description of DAB in a twitter post. The only other Dortmund style is the Howe Sound Lager. This beer doesn't garnish that much enthusiasm either. I was not very excited about opening this bomber.

Helios = 7/10


This beer is rather tasty. It pours a shimmering light gold colour that is capped by a long lasting white head. The initial aroma is a little offsetting. There is quite a sulfur presence, but that fades quickly to reveal bread and caramel notes. Perhaps you can pick up a little spicy or herbal hops if you try. It drinks a little on the sweet side but the cooling carbonation and slight mineral taste keeps it in balance. The ending is clean with only the slightest of sweet herbal linger. A nice, easy drinking beer.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6%abv
Value +1 A decent beer
Appearance +1 (nice artwork and a reasonable description of beer taste)

Glassware: Standard lager or pint glass

Food Pairings: The flavours are fairly calm, so it will go with anything. It is sweet enough to calm spicy Thai and Mexican food. This would go well with mushroom Stroganoff.

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spinnakers Three Way Review

I never like giving bad reviews. This review almost never left my desk, but then I thought of what  my beer friends would say. It was some kitten poster saying like "tell it like it is", "believe in your palate" and "you have a duty".  So, here it goes.

Not every beer is perfect. Sometimes brewers must take a chance and brew up something new. This is where the Hopscotch Scottich IPA steps in. It is touted as a Scottish IPA: a malty, caramelized brew with super galena hops. The super galena is a very high alpha/beta acid hop variety. This sounded really good in theory, but somewhere, things went wrong. What do I know, people on Untappd gave it 3.5 stars. However the word "interesting" shows up a lot with the experienced reviewers.

Hopscotch IPA = -2/10


The nose presented benign enough, only the faintest whiff of earthiness and caramel. Things started
off great, the earthy sweetness mixed with bready malts and a vague hop bitterness. Caramel was oddly absent, which is usual for a Scottish ale, but acceptable. Then came the wicked aftertaste: massive, tongue scraping slickness. Could this be a diacetyl bomb? Scottish strong ale do have some diacetyl, but not this much. Perhaps it was overenthusiastic use of a very bitter hop? Hard to tell. Mrs Left4beer made me dump it out because I just kept tasting it; trying to figure out what the off flavour was. Perhaps I got a bad bottle, if so, I wasn't the only one.

Taste +1
Aftertaste -2
Alcohol Content 0 6.4%
Value -1
Appearance 0

Glassware: Traditionally the difficult to find Scottish thistle glass. A pint glass or tulip would do in a pinch.


There must always be balance. Which is why the next beer has a good review. The strong Scottish Ale or "Wee Heavy" can be a thing of beauty. Rich and malty, with ample peat and dark fruit flavours. The Keg Tosser did not disappoint.

Keg Tosser = 8/10

Read the BJCP guidelines for 9E, Strong Scottish Ale, and it is all there. Deep malty nose with caramel, peat and mild fruit esters. Tick. A full and chewy sip delivers new tastes each time. with the first gulp, flavours of caramel, vanilla and peat rise up. Next time, you could be graced with dark fruits, plums or even pecans. Throughout it all there is a firm boozy sweetness to keep you focused. Excellent.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (I like the new label graphics)

Glassware: Traditionally the difficult to find Scottish thistle glass. A pint glass or tulip would do in a pinch.

Food Pairings: Contrast with beers sweetness with something sour. Perhaps a lemon/lime fish fillet or a grilled cheese and sauerkraut sandwich. Or use its sweet characteristic to calm spicy Thai food

Cellar: Generally not. But it would be a fun experiment. The malt flavours are complex and enough ABV to keep things safe.

I alluded to there being a third. If you are still reading, the Ogden Porter is an old recipe but still a good beer.

Ogden Porter = 6/10

Brown porters tend to be one of the calmer beers. The Ogden nose was a mild, but prepared you for the roasted and fruity flavours to come. Each sip was a simple and linear presentation of mild coffee, chocolate, blackberries and roasted whole wheat bread. Nothing overly harsh or outstanding anywhere. Some might overlook this beer with all the uber IPAs and imperial what-nots on the menu. This is sad, because the world needs serene, simple beverages.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always better at the source)

Glassware: Straight up pint glass.

Food Pairings: Nothing overly flavourful. I'm thinking of a grilled cheese sandwich. Actually, this might work with a peanut butter and nutella sandwich. Focus on mild roasted and slightly sweet flavours. A mild cheddar and hazelnut soup just popped into my mind.

Cellar: Nope.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beer School Feb9th Ian's Dark Foley

Mrs. Left4beer has repeatedly said that she never married me for my brains. I do dumb things all the time. Book beer schools on dates that don't exist. Forget to bring beers to these events. My personal favourite was the time I scheduled a school on Mother's day! Yet again I have messed up, but this might turn out gooder. Too many beers have been purchased. That is right, this will be a six course beer school! The theme is all dark beers from various styles.

Email in early to reserve your spot,Sunday, February 9th, 7:30ish at Clive's Classic Lounge in the Chateau Victoria. The beers in no particular order:
1. Overcast Espresso Stout - OakShire Brewing, Eugene
2. Black Boss Porter - Poland (One of my favourite beers)
3. Take the Black Stout(Game of Thrones) - Ommegang
4. Victoria at Sea Imperial Porter - Ballast Point, San Diego. A coffee vanilla porter
4. Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA - Firestone. That's right Dave, A freakin, black rye IPA!
5. Bad Santa Cascadian Dark Ale - Pelican Brewing - Pacific City, Oregon

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 (6 beers). Email me or leave a comment to reserve your spot. There will be only 22 spots for this event. Do not delay as these schools fill up quickly. The last school filled in under three hours.
Plan for a safe trip home as always. We have six beers to sample and a few are more than 9% ABV

Please forward this to any other craft beer loving friends who might like to attend. As always plan for a safe trip home. Luckily, Monday is the long weekend.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again,
Ian

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blood Orange Wit (Phillips)

Beer releases are a rare occurrence in the first month of this year. This week we are blessed with three. Two by Phillips and one by Spinnakers.
The wit (white) beer style is a top fermented wheat brew which originated in Belgium. The single handed efforts of one man, Pierre Celis, to revive this style are a fascinating read. The classic example of style is Hoegaarden, named after the Belgian town where Mr. Celis started brewing this beer. Spices and fruits are commonly used additions to witbiers. Coriander and orange peel are the most common, but I have seen cumin, chamomile and grain of paradise used. So how did the Phillips version fare?

Blood Orange Wit  = 6/10


This brew was pretty darn tasty. The nose was an equal mix of coriander, sweet blood orange and spicy wheat. Each sip didn't reveal anything new, but its light and creamy mouthfeel was very refreshing. It flavours faded quickly, as all good witbiers should. Well done. Odd that it wasn't released in summer.


Taste +4
Aftertaste 0
Alcohol Content 0 5%
Value +1 (Worth the price $6)
Appearance +1 (Good description of flavour and money goes to charity)

Glassware: The heavy hexagonal glass is historically the Hoegaarden/witbier glass. Thick glass helps to keep the beer cold longer. It was possibly shaped to reflect the tradition of drinking out of jam jars, which are often hexagonal.

Food Pairings: Light foods are best. Perfect to start with salads, light fish or seafood and great with cheese sandwiches.

Cellar: Nope, drink this one fresh. This is why I think its release is odd since summer is months away.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It's official, beer drinkers eat a lot of junk food. We tried to hide it behind the mountain of carrots and apples, but science has found us out. This is according to an article in the September 2013 edition of the European Journal of Preventing Cardiology. This issue was way better than the August edition. Researchers in France tracked the spending habits of shoppers at the supermarket chain Casino. Ever wonder what happens to your loyalty points data? It could be used for science. After sorting through almost 200,000 till receipts, they found some interesting facts:
  • Moderate alcohol drinkers display more favourable socioeconomic status.
  • 71% of French shoppers drank wine, compared to 14% who drank beer.
  • Whisky drinkers spent the most of their food budget on alcohol (10.1%) compared to beer drinkers (4.9%). Beer drinkers spent the lowest.
  • Wine buyers bought more healthy foods than anyone else. Especially those that bought Bordeaux. Yes, the researchers split the variety of wine purchases into different categories; it was France after all.
  • Beer drinkers bought the lowest amounts of healthy foods.
  • Sadly, people overall spend more on unhealthy foods than healthy foods.
Healthy foods included tea, margarine, fish, fruits, veggies, white meat and low-fat dairy products. Unhealthy foods were described as processed, added sugar, cheese, salt, butter, biscuits and high-fat dairy. The French Paradox of health was thought to be due to the consumption of red wine. This article casts doubt on this fact as healthy food choices were different with those who drink wine. I have a few complaints about this article. The craft beer movement is a little lagging in France. Would this data be comparable to grocery till receipts obtained from Whole Foods, Safeway or Haggens? To make matters worse, beer drinkers also spent the most on soft drinks compared to other shoppers. This is not surprising, soda pop is similar in flavour to Bud and Kronenbourg 1664.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top Ten Beers of 2013

2013 was a great year for Victoria craft beer drinkers. I believe we had the most new releases to date. This year also saw a few great firsts. Tap takeovers were a regular occurrence in 2013; first started by Moon Under Water but later perfected by Spinnakers. So was the phenomenon of the guest tap in brew pubs. Also started by Moon Under Water but perfected by Spinnakers. All the brew pubs and breweries provide growler fills. Swans was the final holdout.

Do I have any predictions for 2014? Yes, I have a few:

1. We will have one or two new breweries in Victoria. There has been much talk about the four mile pub starting to brew, but there might be another.

2. There will be a new specialty beer bar opening with Certified Cicerones and Beer Servers on staff.

3. There will be a local collaboration brew this year.

4. One local beer release will be priced higher than $15.

5. Victoria will finally have its own Craft Beer Week, March 1st to 8th.

Now for the top ten beers of 2013 as chosen by me. Please note, I was unable to sample the Lighthouse Oyster Stout. Based on comments from friends, it would probably score a 9/10 and rank about third or fourth.

1. Swan's Legacy Ale (Barley Wine) =10/10
This was the last, local barley wine to be released in early 2013. It fell nicely between the almost undrinkable Old Cellar Dweller and the Drainwreck. Drinkable right away, it's earthy hops were very assertive but didn't overshadow the rich sherry and dark fruit malts. Well done Andrew.

2. Belgian Black 2013 (Lighthouse) =10/10
This was a new recipe from the original version and the taste differences were very apparent.

3. Lustrum Sour Ale (Driftwood) = 9/10
Five sour releases is a wonderful thing. This potent brew was aged in French oak with the addition of black currants

4. Year One - Moon Under Water = 9/10
A wheat wine with multiple yeasts added, how could this not taste delicious.

5. Barnacle IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10
2013 was also the year of the wheat IPA. I thought that Lighthouse's was the best.

6.  Numbskull Imperial IPA (Lighthouse) = 9/10
I felt this was an Australian barley wine, but no one else thought so.

7.  Lighthouse 15th = 9/10
A double Race Rocks? Yes please. Maybe this year we will be blessed with a double Keepers?

8. Saturnalia Gruit (Salt Spring Island) = 8/10
This very herbal tasting beer was just stellar and completely different from all other releases.

9. Shatterbier (Moon Under Water) = 8/10
Coffee is usually an addition to stouts, putting it in a golden ale was a risky move that tasted great.

10. Black Jackal (Phillips) = 8/10
A delicious imperial coffee stout.

Many other beers scored 8/10 in 2013 and are listed below.
Kaleidoscope Mosaic IPA (Phillips)
The Heretic tripel (Driftwood)
3 Weeds (Lighthouse)
Clodhopper Dubbel (Driftwood)
Rum Barrel Aged Red Ale (Phillips)
Creme Brulee Vanilla Stout (Salt Spring Island)
Twenty Pounder DIPA (Driftwood)

Finally an honourable mention for best label art goes to:
Absolute Darkness (Vancouver Island)
A very simple and elegant label that glowed in the dark. Also a nice tie-in to the Horne Lake caves.

If you felt I didn't mention your favourite beer, feel free to leave comments below. Thank you all for reading.





Friday, January 3, 2014

Sunday Beer School, Jan 12th - I Can Barley Contain my Excitment

That's right; this beer school is all about barley wines. Do you know how hard it is to find different barley wines in BC? Luckily these are all imports. Due to the high ABV of these brews, we shall only be sampling four beers.

Email in early to reserve your spot,Sunday, January 12th, 7:30ish at Clive's Classic Lounge in the Chateau Victoria. The beers in no particular order:
1. Class of 88 - Deschutes,Rogue and North Coast -10.2%ABV
2. Alaskan Barley Wine 2011 - Alaskan Brewing 10.7%ABV
3. Tribute 2012 - Renaissance Brewing (NZ) - 11.8% ABV (yah.. right..)
4. Hog Heaven - Avery Brewing 9.2% ABV - a dry hopped one with 104IBUs

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 $20. Email me or leave a comment to reserve your spot. There will be only 20 spots for this event. Do not delay as these schools fill up quickly. The last school filled in under three hours.
There will be only two more beer schools this season, and possibly forever. One will feature my beer hoarding and a school five years in the making! All good things must come to an end.

Please forward this to any other craft beer loving friends who might like to attend. As always plan for a safe trip home. You might also want to call in sick Monday morning.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again,
Ian