Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Review: Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve 2014

Ever since 2012, my favourite rarity by Unibroue - 17 Grande Réserve has been an absolute treat
whenever it comes out. Now, it seems to have become a Christmasy tradition here in Manitoba. When I do see it in stock, I buy as many as possible.

Appearance: Very dark ale, a dark as black ale, with a bit of a burnt caramel hue to it, nice thick amount of creamy beige head that isn't diminishing at all. A bit of carbonation.

Aroma: Very oaky, notes of whisky, oak, vanilla, a hint of chocolate and unibroue yeast.

Taste: The barrels are more present in this year's batch than some other years. Rich notes of whisky - a bit boozey, oaky wordiness, and vanilla. Quite sweet and notes of Unibroue yeast.

Overall Thoughts: Quite boozey from the whiskyish oak barrels, fairly smooth on the palate, something that will age insanely well, and at 10% ABV - share this with a friend. The flavours change from fridge temperature to near room temp so let this beer warm up for a bit to get the most out of the aging notes. You can age this for up to 5 or so years. $8.71/750ml bottle. 10% ABV

Friday, 9 January 2015

Review: Lake of the Woods Bombed Blondeshell Blonde India Pale Ale

The biggest upside to my sister dating a guy from Northern Ontario is that whenever they go to Ontario, I can get them to pick me up a growler of Lake of the Woods beer. Their beer is available in Manitoba now, but their one offs and seasonals don't make it out here in Manitoba. One of the beers she brought back was Bombed Blondeshell IPA.

This is the first IPA I've ever had by Lake of the Woods, and only the 4thish growlered IPA I've ever had in my life, first non-Manitoban/North Dakotan.

Appearance: Bombed Blondeshell pours a caramel amber ale. A heaping amount of creamy yellowish beige foam, reminiscent of a more British style IPA, very reddish in hue and quite a beaut.

Aroma: A bit more different than I was expecting. I'm finding a lot of nutty notes in there, a hint of toasted coffee bean. More of a grassy hoppiness to it. Nowhere near as floral (alfalfa or pine) as you would see for a West Coast style IPA. So this has lots of notes of more of an East Coast/British IPA to me. A bit more sweet caramel malt forward.

Taste: A bit gritty - notes of a rich nuttiness. A bit spicy - without the heat, very earthy, notes of grassy hops though I'm noticing hints of light bitter hops making a cameo once in a while in this brew. A bit sweet of caramel. Overall - a very nutty IPA.

Overall Thoughts: More of a British style IPA in my mind. Not bad, quite nutty and a decent amount of caramel maltiness in it. Leaves a very mellow aftertaste to it of nuttiness and sweetness. I hope Lake of the Woods continues to experiment and branch out in new styles! 6.5% ABV

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

December 1 - Nøgne Ø God Advent (Craft Advent Calendar)

I'm behind on my beer advent calendar postings.. so so what. Plus I won't be adventing it up much after Thursday as I'll be in Jamaica!!

December 1st's beer from the Craft Beer Advent Calendar is Nøgne Ø God Advent. I've heard of Norway's Nøgne Ø before, but didn't really pay attention to them as none of their beers are generally available in Manitoba. However, as part of the Craft Advent Calendar, I get to try it!

Appearance: Pours a murky muddy brown with a bit of a reddish cherry wood hue in there. A lot of creamy burnt caramel foam is rising from the glass as I pour it, but quickly goes down.. immediately.

Aroma: Medium notes of roasted malt, giving it a bit of a coffee aroma to it. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, a bit of a woody finish and a hint of cream.

Taste: Nutty, dark, roasted maltiness to give it a flavour reminiscent of stouts or porters - good for winter time. A bit of a boozey background.. which is not surprising seeing that it's 9% ABV! Hints of dark fruits, a bit of an acidic aftertaste.

Overall Thoughts: For the first beer of the advent calendar, it's a good start - only 250mL, but while drinking this, it just seems like I'm actually drinking something 100mL more. Some dark fruitiness, a hint of grapes in the background, nuttiness, coffee and dark chocolate. De-cent.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

December 2 - Phillips' Old Pappy's Smooth Sailin Amber Lager

Today's the second day of the Phillips' 2014 advent calendar!

Tonight's beer: Old Pappy's Smooth Sailin' Amber Lager

Appearance: Pours a clear caramel amber lager, nice amount of carbonation, minimal amount of beige head touching the sides of the glass and some bubblin' action taking place.

Aroma: Quite sweet, memories of iced tea, quite sugary. Reminiscent of a typical craft style amber lager. Sweet caramel malt, minimal on the hop bitterness. A bit of a doughy aroma and a hint of lemon to top it off.

Flavour: More bitterness from the sweet malt to start it off, more of a bitter and dry flavour. Mild grassiness. This is still very sweet - with notes of caramel, a hint of vanilla, and a bit of a graininess in the background. Quite a nice Amber Lager - more character than most, quite sweet and malty. Respectfully pleasant for the palate in winter time.

Overall Thoughts: Decent Amber Lager. Notes of tea in the aroma, quite sweet compared to most ambers. Caramel, a bit of a nuttiness, sugary and lots of malt.

December 1 - Phillips Electric Unicorn White IPA

Today is day one of day twenty four of this year's beer advent calendar by Phillips Brewing!

Tonight's beer is Electric Unicorn White IPA.

Appearance:  Pale golden with a bit of a haziness to it. Decent amount of carbonation with a bit of floating sediment throughout the beer. Very minimal foam on top - just under a millimetre but some of it is sticking to the side of the glassware.

Aroma: A warm, welcoming citrusy Belgian inspired IPA with notes of citrus, yeastiness, a tad of coriander and a good amount of bitter hops such as Cascade to bitter it off.  Somewhat sweet, somewhat bitter. Bit dry on the nose.

Taste: Reminiscent in ways to a witbier meets a West Coast IPA as there's a lot of citrus and yeasty profile, a bit of a light tartiness as well as a decent amount of floral and bitter hops like Cascade to give it that typical pine flavour everyone is familiar with in West Coast style IPAs.

Overall Thoughts: Not bad, could use a bit more unfiltration as well as a tad more hops to it. This is quite a tasty IPA though, nice amount of citrus and very easy to drink. I'll sure drink this again.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Review: La saison du tracteur by Trou du Diable

It's no longer the season for working the fields on the prairies, but it's always time for a Belgian style saison. La Trou du Diable consistently has some of my favourite Quebec beers, but they don't sell them in Manitoba, so it's a treat when I do get to try some.

Appearance: As a farm boy, I love the name - la saison du tracteur - the season of the tractor, a name to honour farmers who work hard to grow the crops that feed and beer us. It pours a cloudy straw orange-yellow, very thick snow white foam - thick as fresh snow - just sitting on top of the beer, not going anywhere.

Aroma: Light floral notes with a grainy wheat breadiness, notes of lemon, Belgian yeast and a hint of coriander.

Taste: Very solid saison with a flavour of a gritty wheat flavour giving it a bit of bitterness, a bit of a peppercorn spiciness that's flat our blunt in this brew, lemon, Belgian yeast and a sweet presence of bubble gum. 

Overall Thoughts: Straightforward Saison with notes of bubble gum, lemon, coriander and lots of wheat. All this combined makes it a great wheat ale that goes together with haying... Just too bad it's winter!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Review: New Belgium Gruit

Another one from the hoard, today's is New Belgium's Gruit Ale from their ever popular Lips of Faith series. This is a beer that keeps its hops to a minimum (at only 3 IBU!) yet uses ingredients that were common in ancient beers such as horehound, bog myrtle, yarrow, wormwood and elderflowers - all ingredients that just sound like jibberish to me.

Appearance: Lightly hazy golden straw ale with a minimal amount of creamy foam on top. The foam is really sticking to the side of the glass. Decent amount of carbonation bubbling throughout the beer.

Aroma: Notes of lemon, a bit of a tartiness reminiscent to some other New Belgium's Lips of Faith beers. A sour peachiness to it, light breadiness, wheaty graininess and a hint of pepper to give it a bit of spice.

Taste: A bit of a tarty wheat ale with a very grainy profile to it. Some notes of lemon, a bit of a herbal spiciness that's bitter yet not at all hoppy. Some sweet fruitiness in it, as well as some notes of citrus that reminds me of New Belgium's Snapshot Ale.

Overall Thoughts: For a beer with a bunch of weird jibberish items being used for the recipe, it's a fairly straight forward ale with a gritty wheat graininess, a bit of a herbal bitterness, lots of citrusness, floral, some fruitiness, breadiness and memories of other various New Belgium beers. I don't believe I've ever had a Gruit before, but "Gruit" does describe the beer well. 6.6% ABV

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Review: Corps Mort vin d'orge by À l'abri de la tempête

Tonight’s my night of Barley Wines, after seeing Anchor Steam’s Old Foghorn Barley Wine available in Manitoba for the first time (at the low low price of $3.95/355mL bottle), I knew it was time for a Barley Wine party of one!

Back in 2012 I received a bottle of Corps Mort by À l’abri de la Tempête brewery from Îles de la Madeleine. The bottle intimidated me immediately, with a name like “Dead Body” and a graphic of a “dead body” scared me off. But that’s what makes a beer truly authentic. The actual scariest part for me is that the beer warns that there may be traces of Herring. Traces of Herring? In a Beer?! What the heck?! Apparently, with the brewery being on a small yet cozy island, they have their malt smoked in the same place as where the local fishermen smoke their Herring, so that kind of makes sense - Community pride!

À l’Abri de la Tempête is one of my favourite breweries. It’s hard to find, but when I visit Quebec, I buy a few bottles of anything I find. Their saison is possibly one of the best saisons in Quebec, if not - in Canada.

So here I am.. with a bottle of Corps Mort Barley Wine warming up and I’m just writing about it.. eventually I’m going to have to review this as I’m not one for being known to throw out perfectly good beer.

Appearance: The Corps Mort is incredibly heavy, a dark orange with lots of sediment and cloudiness to it. Seeing that this beer’s been aging for over two years, I’m not surprised in the slightest. As it’s poured, a nice amount of cloudy beige foam forms on top, but quickly makes its way to the sides of the beer glassware. Nice amount of carbonation, and a bit of a grapefruit hue to it.

Aroma: For it being a Barley Wine (vin d’orge), it has a very present smoked aroma to it - which I have never seen so far in a barley wine, a bit of a smoked woodiness to it. Notes of caramel, various cereals, nowhere near as sweet and syrupy as your standard Barley Wine - but there is a touch of caramel in there.

Taste: Thankfully I don’t taste Herring in this beer, phew! It’s a combination of a smoked beer meets a Barley Wine. I immediately get presence of charred wood, lots of smoke, but then there’s sweet caramel notes, flavours of dark fruits like raisins and finally a presence of a light syrupy taste to it. Out of all the Barley Wines I’ve ever had, this one is the most unique - yet. It also has flavours reminiscent of plain potato chips, hint of dill and another hint of caramel.

Overall Thoughts: Thankfully there’s no dead bodies in this beer, nor actual herring in this beer, but seeing that the barley is smoked and malted on l’îles de la Madeleine, this is quite a real treat for a beer geek like myself. It has a great combination of a typical barley wine, sweet, syrupy and dark fruits meets a rural Quebec fish/malt smoking hut. The smokiness reminds me of the first smoked beer I ever had - Lava Stout from Iceland. Visiting les Îles de la Madeleine is on my bucket list. I will do it, en fait, one friend told me about a job opportunity at this brewery several years back during my depressing & crankier unemployment phase, but unfortunately the job was already filled.. But Santé and Cheers to unique Canadian beers. 11.0% ABV, bottled July 2011 - Oh how life has changed since then!

Also: Visit les Îles de la Madeleine! (Youtube)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Review: Blue Moon Proximity Ale (Brewed with Sauvignon blanc grapes)

It's not every day one finds an ale brewed with Sauvignon blanc grape juice or with grapes at all... because that's wine stuff! But the folks over at MolsonCoors' Blue Moon Brewing created just that, a wheat ale brewed with the juice of Sauvignon grapes for their limited edition beer, Proximity.

I don't consider myself a snob, so when I'm down in the States for a mini vacation, I sometimes pick up a case of Sam Adams or Blue Moon. In this case, when I saw the bottle, I just had to pick it up. At first glance, I thought this was a wine and frankly, I'm not a wine fan. But then I noticed it was in the beer section of the store. So of course, I picked up a bottle to try. Unfortunately for me, as a beer hoarder, I aged this one way past its best before date. I buy a lot of beer, drink a lot of beer, but also hoard beer because I'm waiting for the right timing.

Appearance: Proximity pours a clear golden straw yellow,  somewhat fizzy and carbonated and a light snow wheat head that diminishes quite quickly.

Aroma: Certainly has some white wine and Sauvignon notes to it. Hint of tartness, pretty faint and a bit of a scent of stale straw in it. The stale straw is probably my fault, but I'll blame Blue Moon! I like the Sauvignon aroma to it, it's nowhere near as strong and tart as in a wine, but in this beer, it gives it a nice aromatic profile to it.

Taste: Very much a wheat ale that is trying to be a white wine. It has the standard characteristics of a filtered pale wheat ale, some citrus notes, quite grassy and light bitterness from the hops. Then there's the Sauvignon appearance that gives it the typical tartness of a white wine, a bit of an acidic mouth feel and quite dry, some flavours reminiscent of 7-up - citrusy. Quite easy to drink, and not bad at all. Sweet, very much a beer and notes of wine juice.

Overall Thoughts: Smooth, not bad wheat ale with a decent amount of wine flavours in there. Quite a bit new to me as I've maybe only ever had two other beers that used grapes, and even then - it was more juice-like than wine. It was pricey at $10/750mL bottle, but incredibly smooth for 8.5% (and only 2-4 IBUs). I'd sure buy it again, but not at $10.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Review: Half Pints' Dead Ringer Belgian IPA

Tonight's newest review is Half Pints' Dead Ringer Belgian IPA, a beer that was only available for purchase at the beer garden for the Canadian Cyclocross Championship event, and now on tap at the growler stations at the brewery and a limited amount of Liquor Marts. I love Belgian ales and I love IPAs. So why not both?!

Appearance: Dead Ringer pours a hazy golden honey, very cloudy and a decent amount of creamy IPAlicious foam on top. Obviously the growler in the photo isn't a Half Pints' growler, but I had to make due with what I had (as I had my Souris River growler mugged from me!)

Aroma: notes of various hops including cascade, a bit of Belgian yeast, lemon, bubble gum, coriander.. And even notes that remind me of sorachi ace hops.

Taste: The yeast and hops hit the palate at the same time. Medium amount of bittering and floral hops with a Belgian yeastiness that gives a bit of a bite. A bit grainy, a hint of coriander and a smidge of lemon.

Overall Thoughts: Very solid Belgian IPA. Has great yeasty & citrus notes while containing great floral hoppiness to it. Not overpowering so it's the kind of IPA that is great with dinner. Not as near bitter as Little Scrapper. If this became a new seasonal from Half Pints, I'd buy up lots of it!