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

Monday, 27 April 2015

Review: Tree Serendipity No. 7 (Whisk(e)y barrel aged beer)

This one is from the hoard that I didn't even realize I had. So, Tree has a series of one-off beers called the Serendipity Series - barrel aged beers, I don't know much about it but this one off.. Serendipity # 7 is a whisky barrel aged porter/dark ale.

Appearance: Serendipity No. 7 pours a dark blackish-brown with a decent amount of caramel-beige head, very carbonated and fizzy like a soda. A bit of a brown cola hue to it.

Aroma: This porter has a combination of caramel/toffee, oak, hint of vanilla and of course.. whisky. There's a bit of a nutty background from the porter itself and just a smidge of coffee. Fairly sweet, caramelly yet fainter than most whisky barrel aged beers out there. Very inviting.

Taste: First thing I noticed was the oak and the whisky, it's a creamy, sweet, oaky and whisky beer with a background of porter, which gives a coffee and nutty flavour to it, a hint of dark chocolate and light bitterness. Very smooth on the palate for a porter. The flavour of whisky really pops out here more than in the aroma. The aftertaste is a bit reminiscent of dill.

Overall Thoughts: Decent beer by Tree Brewing. For the beer being aged in a whisk(e)y barrel for 100 days, the aroma wasn't as powerful as I would expect but the flavour pops out when being tasted. Love the nice oaky richness that pops out at the beginning, reminiscent of a nice fine whisk(e)y.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Review: Half Pints Stir Stick Stout

A few months back Half Pints announced that they're retiring their classic Stir Stick Stout in bottle form. Ever since they started selling their beer in the Tasters Pack back in.. 2008? It was a staple in the case, but once the beer's labels will run out, they will be planning to replace Stir Stick Stout with the seasonal of the month, meaning while the delicious breakfast-friendly stout will be replaced with beers that may not have been previously available in some places due to the seasonals being usually in 650mL bottles. Stir Stick will only be available on tap in Winnipeg and possibly at growler bars.

For now, Stir Stick is still available in the 341s in the Taster Pack and since I discovered I haven't reviewed it yet.. here we are!

Appearance: Stir Stick pours a black coffee, thick, dark. Burnt caramel head, creamy, and went down quickly. Fairly fizzy which is a surprise for a stout.

Aroma: Dark, nutty, rich coffee, reminiscent of a small town diner's fresh brewed coffee - nothing fancy but very aromatic and inviting. Hint of cream, a bit of dark chocolate.

Taste: Nutty right off the bat, roasted malt to give it a bit of bitterness, lots of black coffee and just a hint of dark chocolate. Creamy mouthfeel and leaves a bit of a bitter aftertaste.

Overall Thoughts: A very solid stout, very coffee-licious with nutty background to it, creamy mouthfeel and a bitter coffee aftertaste. It's going to suck when this is no longer available in the Taster Pack, but honestly - I haven't purchased the Taster Pack in a long time because I'm not a fan of St James Pale Ale, but it's their most popular beer!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Review: Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Pale Ale (2014 edition)

Goose Island is now available in Manitoba, and if you are educated about the beer industry like I am, you know that Goose Island is owned by the owners of Labatt and Budweiser - AB-InBev. I dislike Labatt's products and then some - Shock Top Belgian Style Wheat Ale is frankly nasty and watered down. That being said, Goose Island hasn't changed much since being bought by Budweiser & co - except ability to have their beers in more places and higher buying power.

I've already reviewed Goose Island's Sofie Saison a year and half ago so I don't need to do another review anytime soon. So now onto Matilda! Matilda is a Belgian Style Pale Ale at 7% ABV and 765mL bottle.

Appearance: Matilda pours a vibrant orange honey comb with a bit of a light creamy beige head on top, a tad bit of sediment at the bottom of the glass, minimal carbonation from what I've noticed.

Aroma: The aroma has notes of orange peel, farm yard, fairly hay-like, a bit of a sour note that reminds me of a mens restroom at a pub. Slightly tart, a bit reminiscent of a saison in some aspects (more citrusy than most Belgian style Pale Ales I'm used to). Hint of clove.

Taste: If someone told me that this was a bottle of Sofie, I would believe them as I find the Matilda seems a bit too similar to the Sofie I had last night. It's sweet, citrusy, hint of orange peel, a bit medicinal. Then there's a hint of pear and apples falling at the very end. Not as tart or sour as the aroma would lead me to believe - but there's subtle notes there anyways, especially as it slowly warms up.

Overall Thoughts: It wasn't what I exactly expected for a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, incredibly citrus focused, yeasty breadiness showed up here and there but not really comparable to other Belgian Pale Ales I've drank recently. I do like the nice citrusy zest - it's very easy to drink, lightly fizzy on the tongue and great to sip on on a light jacket Tuesday evening outdoors. Available throughout Canada for approximately $8-10 per 765mL bottle. Save a few bottles because it will age well over time.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A visit to Dépanneur Peluso

Every year I love to have my annual bièrcation, and with that - I love to check out new and exciting brewpubs, breweries and beer stores, as well as meet up with beer geek friends. For the second year in a row, I went to Montreal even though my heart is in Quebec City.

I was hoping to do a brewery tour or two, but unfortunately that didn't happen as my requests were declined, or in McAuslan's case - they won't be open for brewery tours until later this spring. Bah humbug.

One of my favourite places to check out while in Montreal is Dépanneur Peluso. Time and time again it's raved as being one of the best bottle shops in all of Canada, and even on - listed as one of the best beer retailers in the world! Why's that? Selection and service.

When you first enter Dépanneur Peluso (Boni Soir), it looks like your standard corner store - you have fridges with milk and soda, racks with chips, snacks and bread. Then.. you walk a bit further into the store and you immediately realize that their main focus is beer. At first, you come across mostly macros, you see fridges full of beers by Molson, Labatt, Sleeman, Tremblay and Belle Gueule - the typical stuff you see at the local Metro or IGA in anywhere in Quebec - the macros. Then you turn a corner and you quickly feel overwhelmed by the Quebec beer scene. Overwhelmed may not be the right word.. I was flat out feeling dizzy at the beer section! They have hundreds of different beers, mostly all listed in dedicated sections so that if you wanted beers of a specific style - say barley wine - all the barley wines are next to each other.

I had a quick chat with resident Peluso beer expert Pierre-Luc who was just finishing up his shift as I was making my way into the store. Pierre-Luc also happens to be the go-to beer expert for so you could tell that the staff there were dedicated about beer. He showed me some of the new beers that were just released, giving me suggestions on what I should check out and even showing me his personal favourite beers. As soon as he was done his shift, we did a beer trade - I gave him a few bottles of beers available out west including a bottle of Half Pints' Grand Slam Breakfast Stout, and he gave me a bottle of Peluso 30 XXX, a beer brewed by Brasseurs Illimités exclusively for Dépanneur Peluso for the store's anniversary (Check out a YouTube review by Les Freres Atman).

In the end, I purchased more beer than I should have - as I was leaving back for Manitoba the next day - and I was well over the limit for excess luggage weight limit because of it. But when in Montreal, boire comme les locaux!

I really enjoy visiting places like Dépanneur Peluso because they put local beer front and centre, which is something you don't see outside of Quebec due to their restrictive liquor laws AND our restrictive liquor laws. Times are slowly changing out here in the west and one day here in Manitoba we will see people drinking local instead of drinking that beer they saw advertised on Hockey Night in Canada.

"Financing Available #NOT - U-Wuss"

At $180ish, you too can own a 6L bottle of Unibroue's La Fin du Monde!

Ottawa's Beau's is now available in Quebec!

My attempt at a panorama

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review: Unibroue U Rousse

Unibroue's known for their staples like La Fin du Monde, Blanche de Chambly, Maudite and 17 Grande Réserve. To most of us outside of Quebec, we aren't familiar with Unibroue's "U" line of beers, which includes a Blonde, Miel (Honey) and Rousse (Red) Lager. This line of beer can't be compared to Unibroue's most popular products as these products were developed in the early days of Unibroue to compete against Molson and Labatt in the discount beer market. Even with all the success Unibroue has had, the "U" line still exists. I found a case of Unibroue U Rousse Amber Lager at a small family owned dépanneur near my hotel - the sign stated $14.99, but the price was cut to $12.99. So at a price like that, I can't say no!

Appearance: Pours a rich caramel red beer with a bit of a honey hue. Nice amount of off-white head clinging to the er.. hotel plastic glass.

Aroma: Bit of caramel maltiness, hint of honey, light nuttiness and a grainy profile. Reminiscent of most more macro red amber lagers/ales.

Taste: It's very smooth, a bit of a tinny aftertaste, a bit of a caramel sweetness, a hint of nuttiness, fairly light and a bit of a grassy profile.

Overall Thoughts: Compared to the cousin beer Sleeman Honey Brown, I think I actually prefer this one. It's not great but this is a very smooth lager that takes 0 effort to gulf down. At the price ($12.99 before tax + deposit) - is substantially better than the competition in the discount beer section at Quebec dépanneurs.