Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Review: Belle Saison by à L'abri de la tempête

I've had several bottles of beers go missing from my fridge over the past few weeks now. Beers I've purchased/traded in Quebec, beers I had in the fridge for upcoming Brandon Sun reviews and even a bottle of Moosehead or two. It was just getting out of hand. So now I have to drink my beers before some ASSHOLE drinks them on me.

Belle Saison by à l'abri de la tempête is one of my favourite saisons in Quebec. The brewery is located on les îles de la madeleine, which just makes it even more cool.

Appearance: Belle Saison pours a light orange beer, cloudy, a bit of a copper hue to it, light amount of white foam and decent amount of carbonation - a bit of crackling taking place.

Aroma: Quite a sweet saison, it has notes of flowers (rose petals, etc), lemon citrus, ginger - lots of ginger to give it a gingerbread vibe to it, somewhat earthy. Fairly light aroma but welcoming.

Taste: Sweet malt gives it a bit of a caramel/ginger sweetness to it, followed by a light earthiness, grassy & floral, somewhat bready, slight amount of peppery background, slight sour. Quite stronger flavours than most saisons. A bit of a tinny aftertaste.

Overall Thoughts: The autumn flavours of gingerbread makes it a bit weird for me - it's not to style, but aside from that, it's a decent beer - a moderate amount of citrus zest and very easy to drink.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Shock Top Belgian White and Lemon Shandy

To me, Labatt's Shock Top is the kind of beer that if it was personified - he'd be that douchebag bro who would call you bro every 13 seconds, drink all your beer and still go "bro, it's your fault, you had free beer just sitting there in the fridge", and he wears socks with sandles and plays music on his phone's speaker instead of using headphones, that kind of douche.

Shock Top's essentially Labatt's take on the Rickards brand in Canada. As you can probably tell by now, Molson has pretty much cut advertising money for the prairies - so beers like Rickard's White are getting replaced by Shock Top Belgian Wheat. So due to that, everywhere that used to serve Rickard's has moved towards Shock Top. I've refused to review Shock Top for the most part because frankly.. I don't like their beer: It's watered down, syrupy and doesn't hold a candle in the wind compared to craft beers, or even RICKARDS.. sadly enough. I reviewed their Raspberry White last year and after trying that beer.. I don't know why people like it.. but perhaps it's the advertising or just that people think it's a craft beer when it's not.

Shock Top Lemon Shandy:
Appearance: Shock Top Shandy pours a very pale cloudy lemon yellow. Reminiscent to a typical shandy or Radler but lighter than I'd expect at 4.2%. There's an incredibly light amount of beige head on top rimmed around the side of the glass.

Aroma: Lightly sour - lemons, a bit reminiscent of Mill Street's Lemon Tea as it's a tad sweet.
There's a chemically aroma that's very much like baby wet wipes. Light breadiness.. I don't know what else to say..

Taste: Fairly sweet - especially compared to the aroma. Lemon water with a few tablespoons of sugar or corn syrup. Light grainy bitterness from the malt. The more I'm drinking this, I'm noticing more and more of faux lemon juice extract.

Overall Thoughts: Lemon, lemon, lemon, lemon. Hint grainy bite but lemon. It's incredibly easy to drink on a hot summer day like today.. so that's good, but lemon.

Shock Top Belgian White:
Appearance: It pours like your typical Belgian witbier, a very cloudy & murky orange with a hint of copper coloured ale. Decent amount of white creamy foam fluffs at immediately but it quickly goes down.

Aroma: A bit grainy - bready, hint of lemon, coriander and a hint of orange peel. This is very underwhelming.. it's grassier smelling than most witbiers. I think the Lemon Shandy might have been just a bit stronger in aroma.

Taste: Grassy, a bit metallic bitterness, a flavour that reminds me of the vinegar in Heinz ketchup, lemon, light on the coriander and oranges here. Actually a slight bit bitter. Really underwhelming.. but it is 5.2% ABV, so seeing how light it tastes, you will eventually get a bit of a buzz.

Overall Thoughts: I'm surprised that this is as popular as it is in Canada. While Rickards White is faux with its overly sweet orange notes and the overabundance of coriander - the coriander in this beer is minimal at best.. especially with the label mentioning it as part of the flavours. We have to remember that Shock Top is part of the very same company that makes Goose Island Sofie Saison and Hoegaarden - both are amazing wheat ales. This one is bland and truly needs orange wedges to give it some flavour. Belgian? Nope.. I don't recall Creston or Vancouver being part of Belgium. But this is a white, not a good white.. but yeah.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Review: Stanley Park SunSetter Summer Ale

This is the first time I've tried anything by Vancouver's Stanley Park Brewery. Their beer has been available in most of Manitoba for approximately a month now - one week in my town. At the liquor store, their Sunsetter Summer Ale popped out at me - I like a nice wheat ale on a hot prairie summer day and.. it was something new! One of the guys at the LC told me he really enjoyed it and that he didn't expect it to be a peach flavoured beer.. seeing that the word "peach wheat ale" is in very tiny print on the bottle.

Appearance: SunSetter pours a hazy orange/golden body. Good amount of bubbly carbonation, half a finger of creamy beige head. Reminiscent of most wheat ales I drink in the summer time.. more appetizing looking than Sam Adams' Summer Ale, so far.

Aroma: Mother of god.. it's as if Stanley Park bought out the entire annual production of Okanagan peaches just for this beer. It's incredibly sweet, incredibly peachy, almost reminiscent of the fruity malt based beverages that people seem to love right now. It brings me back memories of McAuslan's St-Ambroise Apricot Ale - that sweet. Well.. I do love me some sweet fruity wheat ales in the summer time. There's a light amount of tartness in there, a bit of a grainy wheat profile and honestly.. that's it.

Taste: Honestly underwhelming. I was expecting a mouthfull of peach in here, but it's just.. bland. There's very minimal sweetness in there, a hint of tartness and a gritty wheat taste. Light amount of metallic and apple aftertaste.. but just underwhelming.

Overall Thoughts: Really underwhelmed me. The aroma teased me with peaches galore, but the flavour just lacks the sweetness.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Review: Phillips Third Blind Mouse Triple IPA

For the Brandon Sun, I've been asked "why don't you ever review any Phillips IPAs?" Simply: they're impossible to get in stock here in Brandon. Whenever a new Phillips beer comes to town, it's sold out within a few days because... well.. people want to drink their beer! So if you don't snag a bottle within a day or two of it being put on the shelves - it'll be gone before you know it.

3rd Blind Mouse Triple IPA is no exception. When I saw this beer on the shelves last week, there were only three bottles left - I bought two. One to drink on a crappy night and another to review.

3rd Blind Mouse is a Triple IPA that tops out at 10.2% ABV, so this isn't the kind of IPA you want to drink by yourself.

Appearance: 3rd Blind Mouse pours an orange-amber ale, lightly hazy with a decent amount of carbonation. A half-a-finger's worth of foam as it settles down, it's a creamy yellow-beige head that's a bit creamy and just lingers to the side of the glass.

Aroma: It's parfumic, it has sweet & tropical notes of pineapple, grapefruit and lemon. Moderate bitterness of hops, not as bitter as what I would expect but after the tropical fruitiness - I'm getting notes of pine and fresh cut alfalfa. A bit of a blunt yeastiness in there as well. Very boozey-forward.. my acid reflux is acting up just from the aroma alone..

Taste: Bitter as heck - lots of pine, a bit of a nuttiness that I've come accustomed to from Phillips' million IPAs and sweet & tropical flavours of grapefruit and lemon - no pineapple this time.. instead it's more of a bite of alcohol. I can feel the alcohol taking over from the very little I've had so far. Bit of a metallic and for some reason.. appley aftertaste.

Overall Thoughts: For the price - just under $7, it's a great bargain. The hops are all over the place and great tropical notes in the aroma make it very inviting. Very bitter tasting, strong ABV and welcoming aroma? I like this.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Review: Granville Island Brash Knuckles American Brown Ale (Vern Lambourne's last beer at Granville)

My buddy Vern Lambourne, brewmaster of Granville Island Brewery recently stepped down after 13 years . Turning the brewery from a popular Vancouver brewery to one of the most popular breweries in Canada thanks to being purchased by Molson a few years back.

Before Vern signed off one last time, he created one last beer with the brewery - Brash Knuckles American Brown Ale, part of the Black Notebook Series of ales. I've been a fan of the Black Notebook series for a long time now. Generally we don't get access to one offs/seasonals in 650mL bottles in my neck of the woods, so when one of Vern's treats makes it to Manitoba, it's always good to have!

Appearance: Pours a dark brown ale or "Tawny" according to the label. A bit of a reddish/caramel hue when in the light. Fairly thick, light amount of cookie dough yellowish head that remains glistening on the top.

Aroma: Dark fruits - a bit of raisin, prune. Sweet with notes of brown sugar, caramel, a bit of a combination of tea/coffee in there to give it a bite. Lightly nutty. This is a bit sweeter than most American Brown Ales I've had.

Taste: Creamy mouthfeel followed by a roasted malt bitterness that's reminiscent to coffee. There's also an incredible amount of sweetness following it.. like brown sugar and a hint of woodiness. A bit of an alcohol burn to it.

Overall Thoughts: Not bad, certainly not my favourite by Granville. It has a nice brown sugariness that pops at me, creamy on the palate and hints of tea somehow pops up in there. I wish Vern all the best for his future endeavours!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

From the archives: December 3 - Penpont Chateau Civrac Old Ale (Cask Aged Strong Ale)

From my archive. This is from the 2014 Craft Beer Advent Calendar. December 3, 2014.

For December 3, we have the Penpont Chateau Civrac Old Ale by the British Penpont Brewery.

From its product description: "A deep malty brew, with fantastic depth of flavour and a slight tart note from the wild yeasts present during the aging process. Aged for several months in oak wine casks. This beer is smooth but complex."

Appearance: Pours a rich caramel amber ale, clear, very carbonated, minimal to almost no head on top. Very sweet and caramel looking.

Aroma: The aroma is a sweet, nutty, caramelly brown ale with notes of dark fruits like plums and raisins. Lots of caramel syrupiness in there.

Taste: Starts out nutty, followed by a caramel sweetness - moderate at best, notes of dark fruits like plums pop out. Fairly light, watery mouthfeel and a tinny aftertaste. Has a bit of a stale butter

Overall Thoughts: Alright, quite nutty. Very watery on the palate so it's easy to drink, but it needs more body, more caramel sweetness and bit more roasted malt. Not noticing the cask-aged oak at all, it's light as heck.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Review: Unibroue Éphémère Poire (Pear)

As much as I love Unibroue, sometimes I feel like they're running out of ideas - so they use their Éphémère line to compete with brands like Bud (Light) Lime to try to woo people into buying their products in the fruity beer market instead of the competition. At first it was just Éphémère classic, then just the pomme (apple) and framboise (raspberry). Then over the years they made a cassis, cranberry, cherry and soon.. a peach version of Éphémère. The newest one I've found was the Éphémère Poire (Pear), I'm not a fan of pears, and most pear beer I've had were fairly bland, and frankly.. aside from the Raspberry and Cassis Éphémères, I've never really enjoyed this line of beers because it's generally far too mellow and has a fake OR stale fruit taste to it. With all that being said, it's mean to be the fruity summer time wheat beer, that you drink on patios while you're instagraming your large juicy bacon cheese burger topped with maple bacon, Dr Pepper BBQ sauce, cheese curds instead of processed cheese and juicy grilled beef.. om nom nom!

Okay, I wish I was eating that right now... but here we are. On with the review!

Appearance: Unibroue Poire pours an unfiltered golden ale, very hazy with a decent amount of carbonation. A bit of snow white head on top just sparkling at me.

Aroma: The first thing that this beer makes me think of is Blanche de Chambly, it has similar notes that are quite reminiscent of Unibroue's popular classic witbier. It's fairly light but yet aromatic with notes of various fruits - mostly pear, of course. Notes of apple peels, a bit of coriander, lots of bubble gum sweetness and a hint of lemony citrus to top it off. I dislike pears in every sense, beer, food, etc but this beer is smelling better than its sister beer, Éphémère Pomme.

Taste: Very very grainy, lots of the typical Unibroue yeast just hits you right in the middle of the tongue. There's a great deal of bubble gum sweetness, as well as a bit of a pear sweetness that turns into a bitterness that lingers as an aftertaste for a while. Very reminiscent to a Blanche de Chambly.

Overall Thoughts: This is one of the better beers in Unibroue's Éphémère series. Very comparable to the very popular Blanche de Chambly, with more of a bubble gum and pear sweetness to it. Very smooth on the palate, easy to drink. This is going to be a decent seller on hot summer days, but unfortunately we will see Bud Lime Cranbrrrita end up beating out this beer in sales.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Review: Central City Detective Saison

I rarely get to try beers that get negative attention, but Central City's Detective Saison got in trouble a few months back for the character on the label looking too much like a comic character that already exists, so the brewery redesigned the label immediately.

Aside from the Red Racers, Central City beers are impossibly hard to find in Manitoba due to demand and lack of supply. Whenever a Central City beer comes out, it's sold out within the week - on a bad week! I find that I have to buy several bottles in one visit if I want to save any to drink in the near future.

Detective Saison is Central City's newest beer and aside from the copyright issues and people finding that the chest area on Detective Saison being um.. too big? The beer has received decent praise from beer geeks so far.

Appearance: The saison pours a very light golden straw ale, somewhat clearer than your typical saison, it almost looks like it's an unfiltered lager more than anything. Thick amount of snow white head that just.. stays there.

Aroma: Very grassy. As well has a peppery spiciness to it that tingles the nostrils, which is a first for me from a saison... very peppery. Light amount of lemon zest, a bit of Belgian yeast to it, somewhat sweet.. but more peppery and grassy than anything else.

Taste: Hmm.. Grassy and peppery at the same time. I'm very surprised by the intensity of the pepper notes on here, I didn't expect that for a saison. A bit of lemon zest to it, a tad of Belgian yeast and a bit of a sourness in the background.

Overall Thoughts: Not as citrusy as your typical saison as I've said several times already.. this is very grassy and peppery. To some, the pepper might be too much, but since I like a curve ball in my beers, I don't mind it. I do wish it was more citrusy though. Very very clear for a saison. 6.0% ABV, 24 IBU

Friday, 1 May 2015

Review: La Crique Blanche aux Griottes by À la fût - coop de travail st-tite

I've always wondered if there were any co-op breweries in Canada ever since Brewtinerie is only now a dream idea. Sure enough, there is a co-op brewery out of Saint-Tite, Quebec called À la fut Coop de Travail St-Tite. I love the idea of a co-op brewery, ability to own a share in a brewery without mortgaging the house is an awesome idea.

I'm not aware if I've ever tried any of À la fut's beers before. I picked up a can of La Crique (J'assume pronounced just like kriek). It was recommended by the staff over at Dépanneur Peluso so I have to check it out.

Appearance: La Crique pours a bright cherry red, reminiscent to cherry or cranberry juice. Quite carbonated. A thick amount of light pink head on top glistens on the beer and quickly goes down. Sort of reminds me of those fake fruity malt beverages.

Aroma: Fairly light, surprising. My nose notices a bit of the typical Belgian yeast breadiness, followed by a hint of cherry juice - just a hint. A light Belgian wheat ale for the most part. Quite reminiscent to Unibroue's Éphémère line of ales.

Taste: Sweeter than the aroma led me to expect. It has a bit of a tart bite to it that reminds me of a kriek, but this is more of a sweet cherry beer than tart. Some added sugar to give it a bit more sweetness, a bit of a cranberry pie taste to it. Hint of bready notes from the Belgian yeast. Not a bad ale at all but needs a bit more punch.

Overall Thoughts: This beer is brewed with organic morello (sour) cherries. This is a nice patio beer but I feel that it should be a bit more tart. The cherries are there, but it seems like it's more bready than cherry-y. Light tartiness to give it a bit of bite that lingers for a few minutes on the palate. 4.2% ABV and 11 IBU. I'm almost done the beer already because it's very easy to drink on a warm spring afternoon like today!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Review: Archibald Microbrasserie's La Valkyrie Bock

Two years back when I made my first visit to Quebec City since I lived there, I noticed Archibald beers available just about everywhere - even in mall food courts. What popped out at me was that they were fairly affordable - $5 at a Chez Ashton and the artwork was pretty damned simple yet nice.

For the most part, their beers were pretty meh to average. Nothing to write home about, but affordable and better than settling on Bud or Bleue.

While at Dépanneur Peluso, I picked up a random assortment of beers of all different styles, including Archibald's La Valkyrie Bock. I like a good caramelly bock and it was only a few bucks, so why not?

Appearance: La Valkyrie pours a clear, glistening caramel red, with a bit of a hue of honey. Incredibly fizzy & carbonated. 1.5 fingers of foam - creamy, fluffy beigey foam.

Aroma: Notes of lightly roasted malt to give it a hint of nuttiness backed with a caramel sweetness. A hint of dark fruit such as prunes or raisins in the background. Fairly light in aroma.

Taste: First thing first - creamy mouthfeel, very creamy which surprised me.. and I like that. Notes of raisins and caramel pop out, much more noticeable than the aroma.. thank goodness. Lots of raisiny goodness for a bock. A light amount of nutty flavour comes out near the end.

Overall Thoughts: A very easy to drink bock. The aroma could be better but the taste is pretty damned decent for a bock.. it's not as light as I expected, it's nice, sweet, creamy and lots of caramel punch to it. Gives me hope that not all Archibald beers are simply "meh."ères/bières/item/la-valkyrie.html