Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sang Du Merle 2016 by Moon Under Water

There are three beers that I feel form the trilogy of fermented flavour awesomeness. The first is my personal favourite Rochefort 10. The second is by buddy's favourite, Orval. Final spot of honour falls upon my wife's favourite, Rodenbach. If I were stranded on a deserted island... you get the idea. Rodenbach is the pinnacle of sour beer perfection. The brewing process is quite complex and involves multiyear aging in open air oak vessels called foeders. This brewing process, and subsequent blending, produces a sour ale of startling complexity. One can pick out flavours of sour cherries, caramel, oak, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Whenever I taste a beer that claims to be a Flemish red sour, the comparison relative to Rodenbach is determined. It can be very hard to duplicate the fruity esters of cherries without a long and complex wood aging process. One way to mimic these flavours is to add in cherries. I fully endorse this idea.

Sang Du Merle 2016 = 9/10 

The best year so far. A nose that carries a tart, sweetness of cherries is sure to please Rodenbach fans. Within all that are hints of oak, balsamic and apple cores. It is not often you experience an effervescent, cherry infused balsamic but this is one of those times. Add to that a sweet prickly acidity that lingers and you pretty much sum up the Sang 2016. A must for sour fans.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Snifter or tulip

Food Pairings: I would recommend a sweet and sour Chinese dish. The bright acidity and effervescence would cut the heavy fats. While the sweet and sour from both would just resonate.

Cellar: I put a few down

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Holy Willie's Robust Porter by Twa Dogs

Porters never get a high score with my rating system. They are just not powerhouse beers. Rarely do you get a porter that adds a complexity of depth that keeps adding new flavours with each sip. Baltic porters maybe, but not English or American. These latter beers are simple in flavour: little roast, little chocolate with a hint of coffee or toffee. Usually not a lot of hop nor yeast character. This is not to say that porters are not enjoyable, quite the opposite. Each sip will distract you then release you back to reality. The robust porter was the stronger version of the brown porter in the 2008 BJCP guidelines. In the current guidelines, brown became English and robust became American. I am also glad to see that this version in not adulterated with added flavours. No blackberry, maple syrup or mocha porters for this beer geek. So how does it taste?

Holy Willie's = 7/10

Yup, it tastes like a proper porter. Roasted grains, cereal and earthy hot chocolate powder gently rise from the glass. Luckily the sip is not overly acrid with roasted astringency, just nicely medium. The flavour parts align like a middle school math question: common denominator or roasted bread crusts, weak coffee, hot chocolate powder and a hint of dirt. Not too quick a fade, yup solid porter. Should have brought the bigger growler.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1 (yup would buy again)
Appearance +1

Glassware: Nonic pint would work

Food Pairings: A steak, or other dark fatty meat, off the grill. The slight char and roasted flavours should harmonize nicely. Veggie option would be a wild mushroom stroganoff

Cellar: Noipe

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Highway 19 IPA by VIB

I think this is a truly new release from one of Victoria's oldest breweries since 2014. For those keeping score, the last release was Sabotage. Nice to taste something truly new. Not much about this beer on their website, so how does it taste?

Highway 19 = 7/10

Yup, it's got Mosiac. It has the nose of tangerines, mangoes, papaya with only a hint of grass. I thought it was a little thin with a medium full and astringent mouthfeel. The tropical never stops, you might get a little bready and caramelized malts if you are lucky. But the rest is all assertive astringency of the tropical fruit, tang, papaya and onion variety. This flavour lingers for an impressive length of time. Nothing off or grassy to note, quite tasty. You are either a Mosiac (HBC342) fan or not.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6%
Value +1 (I would buy again)
Appearance +1 (suitable description of flavour on label)

Glassware: Just a clean pint glass or a fancy IPA glass. I think the IPA glass is a little over-rated and hard to clean.

Food Pairings: Hit it with a lemon chicken or Peking duck with a citrus glaze. For those vegans out there, try it along side mango fried rice with tamarind tofu

Cellar: nope

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Storm Watcher Red Pilsner by VIB

For some unknown reason, I decided to visit VIB today. I heard an empty growler in the trunk and had 30 minutes before violin practice pickup, so growler run it is. The closest place was VIB, Phillips or Moon. Being a beer ticker, I had to try something new. VIB had the red pilsner on tap, which I thought was a new beer. More on that later; don't worry, there is a happy ending. The label on the tap said "Storm Watcher Red Pilsner", didn't VIB already have a beer called Storm Watcher? And what really is a Red Pilsner? Neither BJCP nor Brewers Association has a red pilsner in the guidelines. Perhaps it is a Vienna lager, International Amber lager or an Altbier. This red pils might fit into these categories. Or perhaps, this is just a winter lager? Dang it, is this another VIB recycled beer recipe? Sure tastes like it. I actually plan to cut and paste an old review, because the flavour is similar. Luckily they had 2016 Hermannator and a new IPA called Highway 19. The Highway 19 is your standard IPA dry hopped with Mosiac, at least that is what the nice lady behind the counter told me. She seems very confident and believable. I got a sample also; SPOILER ALERT, it's good.

Storm Watcher = 6/10 

This ruby red brew is nice to look at, even though there is no foamy head. Despite the lack of head, it still offers up hints of vanilla and caramel with slight spicy hop presence. A cool creaminess delivers lots of malts - think graham crackers, caramel and raisins. There is also a continuous presence of vanilla that is not overpowering. The ending is sweet, quenching and ever so slightly astringent.  The storm watcher will appeal to beer drinkers who like their brews on the sweet side.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 (yes, I would drink this beer again)
Appearance +1 I liked the label the first time

Glassware: Clean lager glass

Food Pairings: This would pair perfectly with an unsmoked ham and cheese sandwich on rye. Perhaps a caramelized onion and mushroom cream sauce over buckwheat noodles. Maybe a desert of sticky toffee pudding would accentuate this lagers sweetness. Come to think of it, the Storm Watcher could be used to make a hot toddy.

Cellar: Nope