Friday, July 29, 2011

Garrison Imperial IPA

I'm excited about today's beer. It comes fairly highly rated, and promises to be hopppppppppy. It comes in a 500mL brown bottle, and has 7.0% alcohol/vol. Nice and strong to kick off my long weekend. ;) The label promises "caramel malt & intense hop bitterness with a lingering citrusy finish". We shall see.

When I opened the bottle: BOOM! Fruity hops surrounded me. The beer poured a deep copper colour, with a slight haze. There was a modest amount of small bubbles, and a small head that lasted a while. I could already see a lace forming on the glass. The aroma was overpowering with hops, and I could smell a little bit of malt.

The first sip hit me in the mouth like an 8-ball in a tube sock. The beer was very bitter! The hops was almost too much to handle at first (even for a hophead like me), but I gradually got used to it. The malt was barely detectable, and hardly worth mentioning. This beer was all about the hops. The feel of the beer was fairly soft in the mouth, and there wasn't any warmth from the alcohol. If you're a hophead, then this beer is for you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Today's beer comes to us in a whopping 550mL bottle (yep, a whole pint). It has a gold foil wrap on the bottle cap for that extra sense of class. I couldn't tell what colour the bottle was, because the beer inside it was black. It also had 7% alcohol/vol.

When opened, I could smell a lot of hops with slight fruity overtones. It poured black, with about one finger's width of head that lasted a long time. I could not see any bubbles because of the colour of the beer. The fruity malt aroma was even more pronounced after being poured.

The first sip was very sweet. The beer had a very soft feel in the mouth, almost as if it was uncarbonated. There were definite caramel and coffee flavours in the beer. There was a long-lasting smooth bitter aftertaste that was not unpleasant. After a while, I noticed a slight warmth coming from my stomach. I really liked this beer. It would make a great after-work drink.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Another Trappist beer today. This time it's Orval. It comes in an elegant 330mL brown bottle. It has 6.9% alcohol/vol. It also has a best-before date which is sometime after the apocalypse. It even shows you the correct glass to use on the label. Unfortunately, I only have a pilsner glass.

When opened, the beer smelled like a fortified wine. There is a distinctive sweetness to it. No hoppiness. When poured, an enormous head formed. I've never had a beer with more problems with controlling the amount of head when poured. The beer had a fruity smell to it, and retained its fortified wine aroma. As the bottle was bottle conditioned, there was a slight yeasty haze in the beer. The beer itself had a strong copper colour to it. An insane amount of small bubbles.

The first sip was amazing. The beer was soft in the mouth, with a very complex taste. There was a lot going on with my tastebuds. The high alcohol content gave a warmth to it in the aftertaste. The beer was not very malty or hoppy. More fruity in flavour. A hint of caramel.

This beer is definitely something everybody should try. I'm placing it at the top of my list.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chimay Rouge

It's time for a Belgian dubbel. This beer comes in a 330mL short brown bottle. It has 7% alcohol/vol. It has a "authentic Trappist product" logo on it, which apparently means that it is brewed in an existing trappist monastery. Neat. So far in my experience, monks make good beer.

When opened, the bottle had a smooth malty aroma. When poured, the aroma didn't change. There was a ridiculous amount of dark sediment in the beer. A large head formed when poured, and was supported by a deluge of small bubbles. The beer had a light brown colour.

The first sip warmed me up. The beer was soft in the mouth, and quite flavourful. There was almost no bitterness to it at all. A lot of sweetness in the beer. It didn't taste very malty. Had a slight caramel flavour to it. A fantastic beer, I would definitely drink this beer again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Half Pints Bulldog Amber Ale

The label on today's beer claims "Nutty caramel malts and a hoppy aroma". I'm already intrigued. It comes in a 341mL industry standard brown bottle, and has 5.4% alcohol/vol. The label also shows it has 20 IBUs.

When I opened the bottle, I could smell the malt. Where were the hops? The beer poured an amber colour, as advertised. A small head formed, and was supported by a few large bubbles. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long. When I smelled the beer after pouring, the malt was almost completely gone and I could detect a bit of hops.

The first sip was very malty. There was a slight bitter aftertaste. The beer had a relatively soft feel in the mouth. There was definitely a caramel-like quality to the beer. However, I failed to notice any nuttiness. A decent beer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Half Pints St. James Pale Ale

My third beer from Half Pints looks like a good one. It comes in a 341mL industry standard brown bottle, and has 4.8% alcohol/vol. The label also gives it 11 IBUs. There is a picture of a sun on the bright yellow label, so I'm hoping it's a "summer" beer. Right now, we're having a ridiculous heat wave in Winnipeg, so I can use all the refreshment I can get.

When opened, I detected a very faint aroma of malt and hops. Not very much, mind you. The beer poured a pale straw colour. There was a small head that didn't linger for very long. There also must have been some sediment in the bottle that began to float around in the glass after being poured. This leads me to suspect the beer is unpreserved, unfiltered, and naturally carbonated in the bottle. The (few) small bubbles that formed also led to that assumption. There was still a faint smell of hops and malt, but nothing significant.

The first sip was so-so. The beer is definitely very refreshing. There was a slight citrusy flavour to is, and no aftertaste at all. Overall, a very mild flavour. The beer had a prickly feeling in the mouth. As I drank, the beer left a lace on the glass. The beer began to resemble water by the time I finished the glass. I'm not sure if I can recommend this beer. It's definitely a step above most mass-produced domestics, but doesn't have a lot of character like most other craft beers.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Half Pints Little Scrapper IPA

Tons of information on the bottle of tonight's beer. Half Pints is a local microbrewery (nanobrewery perhaps?), and I've heard some good things about their beers. I previously sampled their Stir Stick Stout with an interesting result. Today, I'm trying one of their two pale ales. The label shows it has 6.0% alcohol/vol, and 50 IBUs. It advertises "Citrus hop aromas with a toasted malt finish". I'm excited.

When the bottle was opened, I could definitely smell the dry hopping. There was a noticeable hoppy smell to it. The beer poured a beautiful golden colour, with a small head, and lots of small bubbles. The hoppy aroma certainly did have a slight citrusy scent to it, and was quite strong.

The first sip was pretty good. The beer certainly is bitter (as warned on the label with its 50 IBUs). It has a soft feel in the mouth, and a lingering aftertaste. I rather enjoyed this beer. I didn't notice any "toasted malt finish" in it though, which is alright since the IPA style does not focus on its maltiness. This beer went down very easily.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gulden Draak

Today's Belgian beer has a whopping 10.5% alcohol/vol. It comes in an oddly-shaped 330mL bottle with a white plastic coating. The bottle I drank also had a best-before date of March 2, 2013. Either the beer is loaded in preservatives, or the extra alcohol keeps the beer fresh for a long time. I suspect the latter.

When opened, the beer had a strong malt aroma. The name of the beer is a bit of a misnomer, as it poured a light brown colour. There was a thick creamy head, and tons of small bubbles. Needless to say, the head stayed a long time, only thinning and never disappearing completely. This beer has a very nice visual presentation. It retained its malty aroma as well.

The first sip was delightful. This beer might be a bit too heavy for the summer. Bit it would be a great warm-up beer after a day of skiing (cross-country or downhill, doesn't matter). As I drank, the head left a nice lace on the glass. The beer's aroma is exactly how it tastes. It has a sweet aftertaste, with a bit of warmth coming from the high alcohol content. It feels soft in the mouth despite the large amount of carbonation. The beer was only mildly bitter. I would recommend that everybody try this beer at least once.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Salzburger Stiegl

I'm back from the mountains, and extremely thirsty. What else than an Austrian beer?

Stiegl comes in a 500mL can, and has no English labelling at all. It has 4.9% alcohol/vol. It also has a best-before date stamped to the bottom: Nov 22, 2011.

When opened, there was a strong aroma of malt. The beer poured a dark yellow colour, with a generous head and large bubbles. As the head disappeared, a beautiful lace was left on the glass. The malt aroma was still detectable, but was somewhat displaced by a more noticeable metallic smell. Uh oh.

The first taste was a bit bland. No hop flavour at all, and to be quite honest it tasted much more like a cheap domestic. No redeeming qualities. It even lacked a malty flavour. It was just yellow fizzy water.