Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Superior Trail coming up!

I'm getting excited.  My through-hike of the Superior Trail is coming up.  This is going to be the first time I've hiked a trail of this length.  My previous longest hike was the Mantario, which pales at 66km compared to Superior's 240 miles.

Have my entire gear load figured out, except for my trekking poles which I need to re-order from MEC (one of the ones I had bought for the trip snapped on my first day using it, and had to return).  Food's all sorted out.  The weather so far this year has been pretty good too.  I've heard the bugs are pretty bad out there right now though.

Just have to hope that things don't take a turn for the worse in August.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Garrison Martello Stout

Today's beer is another beer I've been hoarding in my basement for some time.  It comes in a 500mL narrow bottle with a pry cap and 4.8% alcohol/vol.  The Garrison Brewing company is relatively well-respected, so I have decently high expectations for this beer.

When opened, I could immediately smell lots and lots of chocolate malts.  It poured a dark brown colour with a small tan head.  The bubbles were almost completely undetectable due to the darkness of the beer.  After the pour, the chocolatey aroma had completely disappeared and was replaced with with a smell I couldn't quite place.

The first sip went alright.  I found the beer to have an exceptionally weak flavour.  There wasn't anything off per se, it was just weak.  There was a faint coffee flavour to it.  The feel in the mouth had a little bit of bite.  The beer had a bitter aftertaste that came slowly and was probably the most noticeable part of the beer.  The beer wasn't unpleasant, but I don't think I would waste my time with it again.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Grand Teton Bitch Creek

It's been a while since I've had a beer.  So what better excuse to drink one tonight?

I've heard a bit about today's beer.  It's not available here in Manitoba, so props go out to my sister for getting me a bottle for Christmas.  It comes in a 355mL brown bottle with a pry cap.  It has a surprising amount of information on the bottle for beer nerds: 15.0 plato original gravity, 54 IBUs, 6.0% alcohol/vol, and it's bottle conditioned.

When opened, I got a facefull of hops, and maybe a little fruitiness?  Wasn't quite sure what to make of it.  The beer poured a dark brown with some sediment in it, and few bubbles.  The fruity aroma was much more noticeable after the pour and the hoppiness was scaled back.

The first sip was very bitter.  And sour, too.  I wasn't sure if the beer had gone "off" or if this was an intended flavour.  I didn't enjoy this beer very much, but finished it anyway.  I couldn't think of any good qualities to note for this beer other than it had a fairly soft feel in the mouth.  I don't think I would drink this beer again unless somebody convinced me I had a bad bottle.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fort Garry Kona Imperial Stout

First off, apologies for not writing in a while.  Second off, I'm fighting off the tail end of a cold so my sense of taste may be a bit wonky.

It's time for Fort Garry Brewing Co.'s second beer in their Brewmaster Series.  I was a huge fan of their eisbock, so I have big expectations for today's beer.  It comes in a 650mL brown bottle with 6.5% alcohol/vol and 50 IBU's.  The label proudly displays a tiki doll, putting more emphasis on the "Kona" part of the beer's name.  Near the bottom, it says "beer brewed with coffee".  Oh boy!  I suppose the best beers (that I've had) to compare this one to are Half Pints' Stir Stick Stout and Mill Street's Coffee Porter.

Upon opening, I was unsurprisingly greeted with a strong coffee aroma.  It wasn't as strong as I was expecting, however.  Upon pouring though, the coffee aroma got much stronger.  It formed an average-sized dark brown head on its ridiculously opaque brown body.  I couldn't even see through the beer as I poured it.  Any bubbles were completely undetectable.

The first sip was pretty good.  It tasted like the love-child of a beer and coffee.  The beer was exceptionally bitter, but obviously needed to be as it made my lips slightly sticky (from the malts).  The beer had a very soft feel in the mouth.  The aftertaste was remarkably like that of a strong cup of black coffee.  While the taste was like coffee, it was unlike any coffee I had ever had.  Most likely due to the Kona variety of bean used in the brewing process.  I will definitely have this beer again due to its limited production run.  This beer pretty much reinforced my conclusions that coffee-flavoured beers are not my favourite.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anchor Porter

I reviewed Anchor's Steam beer some time ago, and if I recall correctly, I enjoyed it. Today it's time to try their porter offering. It comes in the same 12oz bottle, and has an unknown alcohol content (I suppose liquor laws in the US do not require that information to be given). It has a bit of information on the label giving a dubious claim that Anchor is one of the "most traditional" breweries in the world.

Upon opening, I eagerly sniffed up the roasted malt aroma. It was strong. It poured black, with a finger-sized dark tan head that lasted a long time. Initially, there were a lot of bubbles, but they became hard to see in the darkness. The aroma was unchanged from when I opened the bottle.

The first sip was pretty good.  While the beer was fairly bitter, it was quite balanced; my lips got a bit sticky from the residual sugar in the malts, but the flavour wasn't sweet at all.  The roasted malts stood proudly.  The beer was incredibly soft in the mouth, but there was ample carbonation.  This beer was pretty much what I expected of a porter.  I would probably drink this beer again if it was available locally.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lucky Buddha

I have reservations about today's beer.  It comes from China.  On the plus side, it comes in a really cool 330mL green "fat buddha" bottle.  It has 4.8% alcohol/vol.  Can't really tell much from the outside of the bottle, as there is almost no labelling.

Upon opening, I detected a faint aroma of hops.  Then it disappeared.  It poured a disgustingly pale yellow colour, with a medium-sized white head that disappeared quickly.  There were a few small bubbles.  The aroma was hard to pinpoint; not very much of it.  The closest thing it smelled to was a domestic.

Fortunately, the beer had more flavour than aroma.  There wasn't much flavour, but it was slightly sweet.  The feel in the mouth was fairly soft, and there was absolutely no bitter aftertaste.  The only reason I can think of to buy this beer is for the bottle.  Everything else about the beer is sub-par; it even made Tsingtao look good.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No beer

I haven't had a beer in over a week. Ugh.

Don't worry, it's not because of choice.  It's more because of necessity.  I got a decently bad stomach bug a week and a half ago, and I've only recently recovered.  Slainte!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Innis & Gunn Original

Today's beer comes in a 330mL clear bottle.  It has 6.6% alcohol/vol.  The bottle has a slightly unique shape to it, with the "Innis & Gunn" embossing.  The beer claims to be oak aged, with hints of toffee, vanilla, and oak.

When opened, I certainly did smell the vanilla and oak.  The toffee was a little harder to find.  It poured a beautiful clear golden colour with a medium-sized white head.  There were an average number of bubbles.  The aroma had not changed much since opening the bottle, only getting weaker.

The first sip was pretty good.  You certainly can taste the oak.  This beer tasted a lot like scotch.   There was very minimal sweetness to the beer, and I couldn't find any of the claimed toffee flavour.  The beer had a fairly soft feel in the mouth.  I found this beer to be pretty good.  The scotch angle has me hooked.  I would certainly look for this beer again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wychwood Brewery Hobgoblin

This looks like an interesting beer from an interesting line of beers. It comes in a uniquely shaped 500mL brown bottle with 5.2% alcohol/vol. The label is in a few different languages, and you would have to be a multilinguist to get all of the information on it. For example, there is an ingredients list but it's in Italian. Yet the beer's description is in English and French. There was a best-before date on this bottle of August 1, 2012, so I was well in the clear in terms of getting a possibly expired beer.

When opened, I was puzzled by the initial aroma.  If my nose wasn't lying, I could smell...  vinegar?  The beer poured a dark amber colour, a far cry from the "ruby" promised on the label.  There was a thin off-white head which disappeared almost instantly.  There were a few streams of small bubbles in the beer, but they were hard to see due to the darkness of the beer.  The aroma after the pour was remarkably different from when I opened the bottle.  It had a sweet caramel scent to it.

The first sip was fairly average.  The beer had a mild sweetness to it, and had a fairly soft feel in the mouth.  There was only a modest bitter aftertaste to it.  Overall, I found the beer quite approachable.  On the other hand, there was nothing spectacular about it either.  I'd probably skip buying it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Orkney Brewery Dark Island

Today is my second Scottish beer. My first one was less than spectacular, probably due to an expiry date SNAFU. This beer has an amazing label. I really dig the artwork and info on it. It even gives the UK government's guideline amount of drinks for the average adult! It comes in a 500mL brown bottle, and has 4.6% alcohol/vol.  The label even tells you what to expect in terms of colour, aroma, and taste.  I purposefully didn't read it in detail, because I didn't want to be prejudiced.

Upon opening, I was greeted with dark malts.  The aroma was very much like that of a Guinness:  roasted dark malts with chocolate and coffee.  When poured, it formed a thin light brown head that disappeared quickly.  The beer itself was a nearly-opaque black.  The aroma gained a slightly sweet fruity hint to it.

The first sip was fairly smooth.  The beer was fairly bitter, and had a very dry finish.  The flavour was mostly dark malt.  A tiny hint of coffee and chocolate, but barely noticeable.  The feel in the mouth was exceptionally soft.  Considering that I had just come back from a run, this beer really hit the spot.  As such, my judgement may be a bit skewed.  I enjoyed this beer, and would definitely buy it again.  Doubly so if I found it in a pub.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ayinger Oktoberfest-Märzen

Ever since I tried Sam Adams' Oktoberfest, I've been wanting to try a different brewer's to see what they have in common and how they differ.  I'm excited to try today's beer, since Ayinger is brewery well-known for its lagers (especially its doppelbock).  It comes in a 500mL brown bottle with an unknown alcohol content.  Some days, I hate US beer labelling laws. :(

When opened, I was greeted with a nose full of sweet malt.  It reminded me more of Fort Garry's eisbock than Sam Adams' Oktoberfest.  It poured a dark amber colour, with just a slight cloudiness.  There was a thin white head that disappeared quickly.  Lots of microscopic bubbles.  The aroma was fairly unchanged from when I opened the bottle.

The first sip was delicous.  The beer was incredibly malty, and slightly sweet.  It tasted almost like toffee, and a hint of honey.  There was almost no hops to it.  The feel in the mouth was incredibly soft despite the carbonation.  If I ever manage to find this beer again, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber lager

I'm slightly intrigued by today's beer.  It comes in a 355mL brown bottle with 5.5% alcohol/vol and 19.5 IBUs.  Normally I don't like lagers, especially non-hoppy lagers, but this beer is special:  It has a quote from Hunter S. Thompson on it.  "Good people drink good beer."  If it's good enough for Dr. Thompson, it's good enough for me.  The picture on the label is kind of neat too, with what appears to be one flea, and one hybrid flea-dog.

When opened, I was impressed by the maltiness flowing out of the bottle.  It reminded me of Sam Adams' Oktoberfest by the strength of the aroma.  It poured a clear amber colour, with lots of large bubbles clinging to the glass.  No significant head to speak of.  The malty aroma remained, coupled with some pumpkin.

The first sip was pretty damn good.  This beer went down very easily.  The flavour came and went pretty fast, and was mostly sweet malt.  It felt kind of "chewy" in the mouth, but otherwise soft.  There was a slight bitter aftertaste; just enough to offset the strong malts.  I sure as hell would buy this beer again.  One damn fine lager!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Lupulus

I know almost nothing about today's beer. It comes in a 750mL green bottle (shaped like a wine bottle, including the "bubble" on the bottom), and has 10% alcohol/vol.  The back label states that the beer has 70 IBUs.  Given that the latin name for hops is humulus lupulus, that makes sense.

When opened, I could barely smell any hops.  The detectable hops were grassy in smell.  There was a slight fruitiness, and an even fainter aroma of spices.  I was surprised to see the beer was filled almost to the cap, and glad it didn't make the bottle explode.  It poured a light hazy golden colour with a thick frothy white head.  The subtle aroma had all but dissipated, and now smelled like a domestic.

The first sip was very interesting.  There was a strong banana flavour.  The beer was very malty.  The beer had a medium feel in the mouth with very little carbonation.  There was almost no bitter aftertaste.  The beer left a sticky sweetness on my lips (similar to Demeter's Harvest).  I'm really not sure what to make of this beer.  The beer didn't seem to be anywhere close to 70 IBUs.  I could see it being a favourite of a lot of people, but it's just not quite what I go for in beers, albeit I found it much better than all of the Belgian tripels I've had.  I think I would buy it again if only to keep a bottle or two in my collection.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Unibroue Maudite

It is finally time to try the last Unibroue beer I have in my basement. It comes in Unibroue's standard 750mL brown bottle with a cork top. It has 8% alcohol/vol. There's a flying canoe and devil on the label, which I believe refers to a legend about a group of voyageurs who made a pact with the devil to fly them home. Really cool label. 

When opened, I was disappointed. Spices. Not yet another Unibroue spice-fest. :( The spices this time were of a sweeter variety than usual. It poured a hazy dark amber colour, with a thick white head. There were lots of microscopic bubbles to keep the head going. The aroma did not change much after the pour. The usual spiciness, with just a hint of fruit.

The first sip was almost exactly what I suspected. There was a strong spiciness in the flavour, but it finished unexpectedly slightly sweet. The beer had a medium-soft feel in the mouth. Indeed, this beer was quite quaffable. I would place this beer 2nd on my list of Unibroue beers (after La Terrible). Overall, this beer is fairly well-balanced. I would probably buy this beer again, if only to develop my taste for tripels (even though this beer is clearly not a tripel).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Big Sky Brewery Moose Drool

My sister and brother-in-law have a sense of humour.  When they bought me the two boxes of beer for Christmas, they mostly chose beers based on their name.  Moose Drool is definitely a funny name.  It comes in a 355mL brown bottle, with a pry-off cap.  It has 5.1% alcohol/vol.  The label is rather scenic:  A drooling moose standing in a river, in a mountain valley.  There's not much else in terms of information on the label, except that it's a "brown ale".

When opened, I immediately smelled malts.  A big of sweetness, and lots of chocolate/coffee aroma.  Not much in the way of hoppiness.  It poured a deep dark brown with a healthy off-white head that disappeared quickly.  It was hard to see if there were any bubbles because the beer was so dark.  The aroma after the pour was rather "meh", just the faintest hint of coffee and nothing else.

The first sip was "meh".  There was absolutely nothing to write home about with this beer.  It really just tasted like a domestic with just a hint of chocolate malts.  There was almost no carbonation, so there was a ridiculously soft feel in the mouth.  Absolutely no bitterness to the beer.  The beer left a lacing as I drank.  There is no reason for me to ever buy this beer (but I'd happily drink it if somebody gave me a free bottle).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flying Monkeys Netherworld

I've heard much about today's beer. It comes from a renown craft brewery in Barrie, Ontario. It comes in a non-standard 355mL brown bottle, with 6% alcohol/vol. It has a rather interesting label, one that I don't particularly like. While I do like innovative labels on my beers, I don't like flashy ones. This is a flashy label.

Opening the bottle, I was bombarded by cascade hops and coffee.  My interest has been piqued.  I noticed a neat motto on the bottom of the cap: "Save water, drink beer".  It poured a very dark colour, almost black.  There was a little bit of light brown head but disappeared quickly.  The beer wasn't very highly carbonated, for I saw very little in terms of bubbles at the top; looking in at the beer from the side was a fruitless effort.  The beer had less of a hoppy aroma after the pour, and had more of a chocolate hint to it.

My first sip was pretty good.  I could easily see myself guzzling this beer.  There was a strong hoppy bitterness to the beer, and a strong coffee flavour.  The beer had an exceptionally soft feel in the mouth, making it much easier to swish around.  There was an extremely light lacing left on the glass as I drank.  This is not a beer for neophytes.  I will definitely buy this beer again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Empyrean Brewing Company Burning Skye

Happy Robbie Burns day!  In honour of this wonderful poet, I'm going to drink some (not very) Scottish beer.  It comes in a short (but not stubby) 12 fluid oz. brown bottle.  It has 5.3% alcohol/vol, and 13 IBUs.  I believe that places it in the Scottish Export 80/- category.  The best-before date on the beer was undecipherable because it was either January or February in 2012 or 2013.  I could only hope that it wasn't Jan 2012.

When opened, I noticed a thin brown "sludge" on the inside of the cap.  The beer had a mostly malty aroma with a hint of peat.  When poured, it came out a very cloudy light amber colour.  There was a thin off-white head which lasted a while.  It was hard to see the bubbles due to all the cloudiness.  The beer kept the same aroma as when it was opened.  It actually didn't smell very appealing.

The first sip was horrible.  The beer had very little flavour apart from the light smokiness.  It tasted like I was drinking an ash tray.  There was no malty sweetness to it as one would expect from a Scottish ale.  At least the beer was soft and creamy in the mouth.  There is no way I would ever buy this beer again.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Today was one of the first cold days of the year.  To celebrate this (late) coming of winter, I decided to crack open a "winter lager".  It comes in a 355mL brown bottle, with the standard "Sam Adams" embossing above the label.  It has 5.5% alcohol/vol, and a best-before date of October 2012.  I was originally hoping that "winter lager" meant an eisbock, but the alcohol content is far too low.

When opened, I was surprised by the spices.  It reminded me a lot of the Santa Swillie.  It poured a dark red colour, with lots of bubbles and a thin dark head.  Very visually appealing.  I had to look very hard to see the floaties.  The spicy aroma was almost all gone after the pour, replaced with a slight maltiness.

This beer was rich.  The flavour was almost all malt.  The beer was very smooth.  There was almost no hoppiness to it at all.  There was a slight spiciness to it, but not overpowering.  Overall, I wouldn't think of this as a winter beer.  However, this beer was pretty damn good.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Affligem Blond

Woohoo, yet another Belgian ale. It seems can't get enough of these (well, except for the tripels). Today's beer comes in a 330mL slender amber bottle with 6.8% alcohol/vol. It says it's from an abbey, but doesn't have the "authentic trappist" logo. So I'm thinking it's from a different type of abbey. I'm not terribly picky, as long as it tastes good. It has a best-before date of May 18, 2013; way in the future, so I should be in the clear. The label made me chuckle a bit: "Contains barley malt." Duh.

When opened, I smelled mostly malt and yeast. There was also a bit of fruitiness in there somewhere too. The beer poured a clear golden colour. The only thing I didn't like was the amount of sediment in the beer. There was tons of it.  I did not mispour the beer.  All the yeast was still in the bottle.  There was no head, and almost no bubbles.  The aroma after the pour was much milder.  Maybe I got a bad bottle?

The first sip: Didn't like it.  I was instantly reminded to Troubadour and Leffe, and remembered how much I disliked those beers.  I'll lump this type of beer with the tripels as something to avoid in the future.  It's not that this beer was particularly bad, insomuch as I just didn't find anything good with it.  The sediment of the beer was a visual turn-off.  There was almost no carbonation.  And it tasted like a strong domestic.  The only thing going for it was the subtle noble hop aftertaste.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle Schwarzer ABT

I can gather very little about this beer, as the label is entirely in German. While I did take a bit of German in university, it is hardly at conversational level. It comes in a 500mL brown bottle and has 3.9% alcohol/vol. Weak. There is also a list of ingredients: Schwarzbier (black beer), and Invertzuckersirup (liquid invert sugar). Not exactly what I was hoping for: a beer with additives.

When opened, I could smell the malt, a little bit of smoke, and some coffee.  The beer poured an opaque black with a miniscule off-white head.  There were very few microsopic bubbles.  The original aroma was retained, but the order was reversed:  Coffee the most, followed by smoke and malt.

The first sip was exceptionally sweet.  The beer had a medium body, not terribly smooth but not sharp either.  The sweet aftertaste lingered on for a while.  There was almost no hops detectable anywhere in this beer.  While the beer wasn't bad, it wasn't exceptional either.  Not knowing what Schwarzbiers are supposed to taste like, I'd have to say it's middle-of-the-road.  I'd drink it again for a change of pace, but really couldn't see a reason to get it otherwise.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Minhas Creek Imperial Jack

I knew I was going to be playing with fire the moment I bought this beer. Minhas Creek doesn't have a stellar reputation for making good beer. Nevertheless, I was intrigued when I saw a craft beer made by them.  It comes in a 650mL brown bottle, with 8.5% alcohol/vol and 75 IBU's.  The label is pretty neat, with a red rabbit made out of Matryoshka dolls.

When opened, I could immediately smell the hops.  The first thing that went through my mind was "That's it?".  Maybe I'm a bit spoiled from all the Humulus Ludicrous I drank this autumn.  The beer poured a cloudy light amber colour.  There was a thin off-white head that disappeared quickly.  There were a modest amount of large bubbles.  The hoppy aroma had completely dissipated, and was replaced with a strong caramel.

The first sip was underwhelming.  At first it tasted like a regular domestic, but then a slight caramel flavour came on. The hops were only noticeable in the aftertaste and not very strongly at that.  The beer was far too cloying; I would not call this an imperial IPA.  But for the price I paid for the bottle, it wasn't too bad.  I don't think I'd buy this again unless I was broke.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

St. Sylvestre 3 Monts

Today's beer has been sitting my basement for some time.  It comes in a 750mL light brown bottle, with a corked top.  The label is probably one of the worst I've ever seen on a beer.  The only information readily available is that it is a French beer and has 8.5% alcohol/vol.

It took some work, but I eventually got the cork off.  It was significantly harder to work out than anything by Unibroue or Chimay.  I had to haul out the corkscrew.  When opened, there were some floral and fruity hops in the aroma.  The beer poured an absolutely clear pale gold colour.  There was a one-finger white head that lasted a long time, supported by a ridiculous amount of large bubbles.  After pouring, the beer's aroma had subsided to that of a domestic: unimpressive.

The first sip was pretty good.  The beer tasted like a very good domestic beer.  There was only a slight malty dry flavour.  The feel in the mouth was very bubbly, but not sharp.  There was a very slight bitter aftertaste.  Overall, the beer was fairly good.  I would consider it a good introduction to craft beers.