Friday, October 28, 2011

What the hell happened?

I dropped off the face of the planet, I realize. After returning from Vancouver Craft Beer Week in May I sat down and wrote a huge post, filled with pictures and stories of a wonderful experience...I was in the zone! Hands down the best post I had written so far. The day after posting I went back to read it again and correct any spelling/grammar errors I had missed only to discover...the entire god damn post was GONE! Everything. Blogger dumped my favourite post in what I can only assume was a horrible glitch in the matrix. A small portion of it was saved in a draft, but literally only half of the first paragraph. I was pissed, and no matter how many times I tried to rewrite it, I couldn't for the life of me muster up the inspiration I had going the first time. Everything I wrote came out flat and lifeless. So I stopped...

...I didn't stop drinking beer though, and I have the squishy belly to prove it. I enjoyed my summer, some might say a little too much. Who the hell are they I say.

Towards the end of the summer a wave of new beers from all over started to show up. The summer of aggressive IPA's was over, and my taste buds had opened up to an array of new flavours. Dark malty beer was starting to taste better, comforting even. ESB's over IPA's. Barrel aged porters and stouts, viscous and rich in dried fruit notes. Even mind blowing sour beers made an appearance once and a while...not often enough in my opinion. But it was the Saison that swept me off my feet. The first being Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace, which I was honestly not prepared for. I savoured my modest sample, having to share the bottle with three other people. I couldn't stop thinking about it. While in Vancouver I had stumbled upon Driftwood Brewery's Farmhand Ale on tap and was in love. Birrifico del Ducato Nuova Mattina all the way from Italy was another winner, along with the rest of their beers. Most recently I picked up a Bottle of Muskoka Brewery's seasonal Harvest Ale, a dangerously drinkable hoppy rendition to the style. I bought two bottles so I could cellar one and see how it ages.

That about sums it up for now. I'll try to be more present from here on.

Now some photos from VCBW until now! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Approaches...

Three days until I'm drowning in fantastic Craft Beer.

So far I've purchased tickets to two events for the VCBW, unfortunately the opening extravaganza sold out before I even had a chance to throw down! Curses!! But....I secured tickets to the "Brothers of Hop" night at the Alibi Room. Featuring nine hoppy treats brewed by hop giants Red Racer, Portlands Hopworks and Eugene Oregon's Ninkasi Brewery.

Also heading to the Brewery Creek US Beer Festival featuring over 20 mind blowing US Craft Brewers. Uncommon, Stone, Shipyard and Deschutes to name a delicious few. This should be a killer evening!

Not a part of the VCBF per se, I plan to also make a pilgrimage to the Central City Brew Pub to sample every single Red Racer beer available on tap. Red Racer Stout here I come!

There are many many more events available during the festival, and it would be easy to consume my entire trip with kick ass beer events....rough life I know. We'll have to see what else I can fit into the already busy tour schedule I've created during my time in Vancity.

Je Suis Stoked.

TAP INTO IT from Vancouver Craft Beer Week on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hair of the Leprechaun Beer Festival

So last week I received an invite to the Edmonton Rotary Clubs first (annual?) Hair of the Leprechaun Beer Festival. A small beer driven fund raiser supporting the Rotary Club Urban Spirits "at risk" Youth Projects. Held at a small Italian community hall near the Commonwealth Stadium, a few hundred eager beer drinkers descended to try out some local and newer brews.
Only sporting maybe nine or ten booths, mostly featuring familiar Alberta Breweries, they still managed to pack the room. A couple of the reps were looking a little green around the gills from the previous nights St. Patty's Day shenanigans, but they were still smiling and having a good time, happy to be showing off their products to the crowd of glowing patrons.
I was happy to see our friend Leon, from Yellowhead Brewing Company, pouring samples of their lager from a mini kegging system. I spent some time chatting him up while he poured tons of samples. Many people heading to his booth because they were told "you have to try it out!" That makes me happy to see such positive feedback for these guys. Their pretty new on the scene, not quite a year old yet, and I would imagine getting such positive reviews would be a good indication that the boys at the brewery are doing something right.
My buddy Gordon was their slinging samples of his Wild Rose Brewery products. We featured these guys at the Sugarbowl not too long ago and received good feedback.  I had tasted most of their brews while at the Bowl, but I hadn't yet tried the SOB Classic English Ale. A sweeter amber colored ale, mild earthy hops with a smooth finish. Drinkable and satisfying. The year round beers they produce I find to be a little on the inconsistent side of things, they make fine products. But the seasonal offerings are mighty tasty. I was given bottles of the Cherry Porter and the Imperial IPA. Both amazing beers in a reasonable bomber package. The porter was a blast of flavor: coffee, chocolate, heavily caramelized malts as well as the cherry. The Imperial IPA a fruity hop explosion, rich and delicious with a smooth finish. Make sure you try a seasonal while available. Their new Altbier hitting shelves in Edmonton soon I hope.
Yukon Brewing was feeling good, Dave and Jeff getting lots of great feedback about the product. The Yukon Red being one of the favorites of course, a divine Red Ale taking the #1 Amber in Canada Award for the fourth year in a row. I also saw plenty samples of the Espresso Stout leaving the booth, both fantastic beers. 
DeLancey Direct Importers came packing a variety of products from numerous breweries including Paddock Wood, Cannery, Garrison Brewing Company and Raasted Bryghus to name a few.  The Raasted Vinter is one of my favorites right now so I had to have a shot of that just because its awesome. A dark yet refreshingly crisp Schwarzbier from Denmark. You have to try Raasted products! I also recommend the good!! Garrison had the Imperial IPA available for sample which is fantastic. I'm becoming a huge fan of Garrison's products. We are currently featuring the Hop Yard Pale Ale at the Sugarbowl. All of the beer I have tried from this brewery out of Halifax is top notch. Some good beer making it's way out from the East Coast of Canada! I had a sample of Cannery's Squire Scotch Ale which I found a little on the sweet side for me, still enjoyable with a good peaty malt base, but not sure if I could really enjoy an entire bottle of the stuff.
Roughneck Brewing Company, from Calmar Alberta, was also present slinging samples of their IPA and Brown Ale. Both very drinkable down to earth brews. Nothing too fancy, just tasty regular people friendly products. I prefer the IPA to the Brown, no surprise there.
Some other breweries representing were Edmonton's Alley Kat Brewing Company and Amber Brewing Company, Granville Island Brewing Company (along with Creemore Springs) and Samuel Adams. There were a few more around but nothing I found notable. 
All in all a complete success I think for a first time festival. Thank you to Chris Cogswell of the Edmonton Rotary Club for the generous invite. Nice work fellas! Cheers!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Central City - Red Racer ESB

Slowly but surely, Central City products have been making their way across the provincial border to wet the tongues of eager Albertans.  Last summer we had our minds blown with the hop assault of the Red Racer IPA, quickly becoming the favorite of practically every hop head in the city.  Followed up by the dangerously drinkable Red Racer Pale Ale.  While still being on the heavier side of the hop, it offers a well rounded smooth drink.  Talk of the ESB by Vancouver friends have had every Red Racer fan buzzing with excitement, dreaming for the day is makes is way over.  Well dreams do come true.  February marked the arrival of the the Red Racer ESB, bringing another addition to the pin up collection, and she doesn't disappoint.

Pouring a  much deeper amber than the other two Red Racers we've seen.  A full malty nose, along with the signature hop blast we've come to expect from Central City products.  The flavor is wonderfully balanced, a rich English malt base, light caramel and nutty tones.  A smooth easy drink, with a slight metallic finish.  Earthy hops, moving away from the citrus heavy hops of the west coast, this beer really embraces the English ESB style.  A lively beer with crisp medium carbonation, thick off white head and light sticky lacing.  Overall a welcome addition to the Red Racer products we Albertans have seen so far.  I'm heading to Vancouver in May for the Vancouver Craft Beer Week and look very much forward to making a pilgrimage to the Central City Brew Pub.  I plan to drink EVERYTHING they offer on tap in mass quantities. It's going to get messy!

I neglected to take a photo while drinking last night so rather I thought I would include a short Red Racer Beer School video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dieu Du Ciel - Solstice d'hiver

*not a Unibroue product
Montreal's Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel is churning out insane beers, one after another.  The Solstice d'hiver (or Winter Solstice) is no exception.  A huge 9.8% ABV Barley Wine, viscous and deep mahogany in color, with a fantastic hoppy nose rich in bananas and apples.  It explodes with a dense head of tiny bubbles, unfortunately little to no lacing.  Rich, fruity and tart, this beer is full of subtle flavor profiles bringing a different experience to every sip.  Raisins, molasses, cherries and caramel to name a few with many more on the tongue.  Let it warm up to allow all those flavors to shine through.  Drinkability is wonderfully high, coming on smooth and warm.  The high alcohol content barely making an appearance until you've finished most of the bottle.

Pair with good company and music for the full experience. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild Ale

Stopped in for a quick shop at Sherbrooke today looking for something I haven't tried yet.  They have a shelf dedicated to new beer as soon as you walk in, and lately it's been stocked with a variety of tasty treats.  I noticed a few Dogfish bottles I have yet to try (Chicory Stout, Burton Baton Imperial IPA, and the Squall IPA...drooool).  I picked up a bottle of the Burton for later consumption and plan to hit up some friends to go in on the $28 bottle of Squall.  Also in the bag I added a bottle of Fuller's 2010 Vintage Ale to cellar and for tonight a bomber of Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild Ale.  Recently I had the opportunity to sample a bottle of their Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale, which absolutely blew my mind, as well as the "Censored" Copper Ale.

The Little Sumpin' Wild Ale is a seasonal beer brewed every September, using a ton of malted wheat and Belgian Westmalle yeast.  She pours a clear golden copper, with a gorgeous white frothy head that slowly crawls away leaving moderately heavy lacing.  Huge on the nose with tons of citrusy aroma, grapefruit and orange mostly.  Smells rich and sweet, the Belgian yeast highlighted nicely.

Quite the hoppy flavor, coming off a little sharp at the end and leaving a slight acrid aftertaste.  Nothing overly obnoxious, but still a flavor that lingers long after the party is over.  Luckily the mad amount of malts (barley and wheat) give it some sweet body, well rounded flavor, and fairly enjoyable balance.  If only the hops could have been handled a little better it could have been very satisfying.  It has a smooth textural feeling in the mouth, a buttery finish that I found interesting, and for a fairly high ABV beer (8.85%) the presence of alcohol is barely detectable.

The Belgian flavor is something I have yet to find a love for.  I can appreciate the character these yeast strains bring to the table but for some reason I just can't fall in love with it.  I see plenty of the Belgian beers leaving the bar at work, unfortunately most of the ones I've tried disagree with my tastes.  This one I find makes good use of the yeast, adding appropriate North American hop varieties and plenty of viscous malts to produce a delicious flavor profile.  A well crafted beer, despite the runaway hops.  Although not something I would buy again, just because of my personal tastes, it's still something I would recommend to a friend.  I really like this brewery and think they craft amazing beer.  In the case of this particular beer, don't listen to me, go buy it for yourself and see what you think.  It could very well be your perfect drink.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Look

So I'm attempting to redesign the look of this blog, and so far not finding myself happy with any of the results.  Bare with me while I search for a suitable look.

Also, I'm planning on attending the Vancouver Craft Beer Week this year, being held May 6th- 14th! Unfortunately I probably won't be able to attend the entire festival, so I'm asking around:

If you were to going to Vancouver Craft Beer Week but had to choose between attending the opening ceremonies or the closing ceremonies....which would you choose?!?

Thanks for the input.

I am a Canadian Craft Brewer from VancouverCBW on Vimeo.

Here's another inspiring video I found featuring some top notch American Craft Brewers.  I love this stuff.