journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

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Half Pints – Stir Stick Stout

Date: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Brewery: Half Pints
Beer: Stir Stick Stout
Category: American Stout
ABV: 5.60%
Brewed in: Canada (Winnipeg, MB)

Stir Stick Stout poured a dark and murky black – almost no light was penetrating the beer. The head was one finger thick and a nice tan color. Pretty characteristic of stouts brewed with coffee. Head retention was moderate and left lots of impressive lacing on the pint.

The aroma will tell you that this beer was brewed with coffee (if you didn’t read the label and see that it was locally roasted Ethiopian beans). Coffee is prominent in the nose but is also accompanied by bitter chocolate and roasted malts.

The first sip brings initial flavors of coffee, chocolate, and faint smoke to the tongue. The faint smoke taste dissipates quickly and allows the roasted malts and other notes to really come through. I found that the carbonation – though not ridiculous – was high enough to subtract from your ability to really taste all the nuances of the beer. A very tasty stout though.

The mouthfeel was a little thin but acceptable for the ABV. Carbonation is on the high side for a stout but not so much that it wrecks the beer, it just masks some of the characteristics they have managed to instill in the beer.

As in interesting side note, this bottle cap was wax-dipped it seems. When I popped it off little pieces of white stuff fell onto the counter and upon closer examination – were wax!

Rating:



Chatoe Rogue – Dirtoir Black Lager

Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Brewery: Rogue (Chatoe line of brews)
Beer: Dirtoir Black Lager
Category: Schwarzbier
ABV: 6.20%
Brewed in: United States

You guessed it – the beer poured a dark and solid black. The head was a few fingers thick and brown – similar to chocolate milk though not as smooth. Head retention was impressively long and ample lacing was deposited in icicles around the glass.

The aroma is of roasted malts up front with a sweetness in the finish. There are notes of chocolate, coffee and molasses in the nose.

The taste elaborates on the the aroma with a good and strong dark roasted malt flavor with some hints of burnt – but not in a bad way. This would be from the black malts which are used as coloring more than strictly flavor. In the middle of the taste you get some coffee, chocolate, and molasses as well. The beer finishes bitter with a wave of hops that balances the beer out beautifully and clears your palate for the next sip. There is a lingering finish that seems to be split between the bitter hops and roasted malts.

Dirtoir is medium to full bodied and the carbonation is moderate. It drinks very smooth and doesn’t taste like an ABV of 6.2%.

I was extremely impressed with this beer because it delivered on the flavors I love in dark beer but kept the overall impression “light”. This was not a “meal in a glass” as some would say but a light and refreshing black beer.

This has put schwarzbier on the map for me – in a big way.

Rating:



Next Act Cask Night – Alley Kat Bananas Foster Dunkelweizen

Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Venue: Next Act
Brewery: Alley Kat
Beer: Bananas Foster Dunkelweizen
Category: Dunkelweizen
ABV: estimated 5.00% (they didn’t tell us!)
Brewed in: Canada (Edmonton, AB)

The beer was given a lovely introduction by Jeff from Sherbrooke who was the brain behind the bananas foster idea.

It came straight from the cask tap to our table with a few potential stops on the way for it’s brethren to be delivered to their new homes. No more than a minute or two.

It arrived with a very thin layer of head so I can only assume that retention wasn’t very long. The beer was a hazy milk chocolate brown with tan head. I can see the color better in my picture as there was limited lighting at the pub.

I had a hard time identifying much in the aroma given the setting. I really just smelt some generic graininess. There is a sweet touch to it.

The taste was initially sweet up front with hints of banana. I presume this is the effect of the wheat and/or yeast used in the beer. The sweetness was balanced nicely by some bitter hops. The overall taste was quite sweet and I believe it is brown sugar I am picking up on. It is quite tasty and the hops do well to balance this out. Otherwise it might have been just too sweet.

Mouthfeel was smooth and carbonation was moderate. Even with agitation the carbonation wasn’t producing any head to speak of.

A tasty treat at cask night but I wouldn’t be drinking it regularly as I wouldn’t be able to handle the sweetness.

Rating:



William the Bastard – Label and two week tasting

Here is the (simplistic) label we designed for this batch:

It is a little bit on the “long” side but it should still fit on our bottles nicely. Next batch I hope to get into color labels and I will just have them printed at the local print shop.

Yesterday (Monday, February 1, 2011) we cracked the last 1 liter bottle of beer that we had filled. It was not completely filled like the others so it makes a good choice for the first taste test.  We popped it open – and I mean popped. I pushed the swing top lid and a very loud pop resulted. Good sign that we got it carbonated.

The beer poured beautifully with just over one finger of head. So far so good.

As we took our initial smells we both agreed that there was a bit of a funky aroma going on with this beer. I am too inexperienced at home brewing to know exactly what or why this is. I have a suspicion that it is just because our beer is still so green and needs to bottle condition a few more weeks.

It has been in the bottle for about 2 weeks and our understanding is that it is thought to be best to wait 1 month before drinking it. Hopefully over the next little while the aroma mellows out to something more pleasing.

As for the taste…it was green but very good. The weird smell was definitely not in the taste of the beer. It is still young but was quite tasty. I can already see that our adaptation of this kit from a Cream Ale to a Northern English Brown Ale has been successful. I hope some more complexity develops in the flavors but as it is now it is already clearly the style we were going for.

We each downed just under a pints worth and were left satisfied with our efforts and hopeful for the remaining 21 liters.

I’ll post pictures next time I open one up.


Dogfish Head – 60 Minute IPA

Date: Monday, January 31, 2011
Brewery: Dogfish Head
Beer: 60 Minute IPA
Category: American IPA
ABV: 6.00%
Brewed in: United States

The flagship beer from Dogfish Head breweries, this beer has some expectations to live up to.

60 minute IPA means that Dogfish Head hops this beer continunally for 60 minutes. They have 90 minute and 120 minute offerings as well. So this is the baby of the bunch.

The beer poured a nice amber copper color with great clarity and a beautiful 1.5 finger bubbly white head. This was not an aggressive pour (learned that the hard way with a tulip glass). Very attractive glass of beer.

The aroma from this beer is intoxicating. I took a deep initial sniff and was very pleasantly surprised by the harmonious combination of crisp citrus hops, pine, and malts. The hops and grapefruit citrus are clearly dominant but not overpowering. The pine finished out the nose and balances out the fruity aspect nicely. This is like airfreshner for beer geeks.

I took my first sip and let it wash around in my mouth and linger before eventually swallowing in an attempt to glean as much information as possible out of my first impression. To summarize – spectacular. This is a delicious beer. You get a very good dose of bitter hops but the grapefruit citrus flavors play this bitterness off very positively. Pine again is present in the finish to balance off the experience. In the finish you can start to taste a bit of the malts.

The mouthfeel is smooth, if not a little thick, and carbonation is moderate. The finish is dry and refreshing.

This beer definitely lived up to expectations and I can agree with Dogfish Head’s assessment that this is THE session beer for hop heads (i.e. IPA lovers). So far, it would be my choice. If you haven’t and had the pleasure of trying this beer – get on it!

Now remember, ratings are subjective. This one may not be 5 pints to everyone – but it is to me. I could drink copious amounts of this.

Rating:


 


Dogfish Head – Chicory Stout

Date: Sunday, January 30, 2011
Brewery: Dogfish Head
Beer: Chicory Stout
Category: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer
ABV: 5.20%
Brewed in: United States

I am on a bit of a Dogfish Head kick here after watching some TV and documentaries that featured the brewery. I decided I should try some of their beers and support them as they seemed like a cool group. I decided to start with a stout – familiar territory.

Chicory Stout pours a very dark brown, almost black, color. I poured aggressive and barely 1 cm of head developed. I was actually quite unimpressed by the lack of head. What did develop was an appealing tan color. I could barely comment on the length of retention because I started with so little and it was gone by the time I finished taking a picture. Carbonation seems fine though.

The aroma is of loads of dark roasted malts followed by a distinct coffee (I guess Chicory) and some more understated dark chocolate. The aroma is extremely reminiscent of Russian Imperial Stouts (RIS) but toned down a few degrees. The smells have made some big promises…

The taste is dominated by dark malts and dark chocolate flavors. The coffee completes the combination and comes closer to the finish. The coffee fades quickly and the aftertaste is again of chocolate. Hops are present but hard to detect. They provide a good balance to the sweetness in the beer.

The body is moderate and the mouthfeel is smooth. This beer is extremely easy to drink.

To be brutally honest I find the beer a little watery and weak for my liking. I think I would appreciate the flavors more if they were a bit more bold. This is almost certainly my RIS bias coming through and not necessarily the fault of the beer.

This beer offers the closest flavor profile to a RIS stout I have yet seen from a Stout with the lower ABV. This makes for a very drinkable combination and could be valuable if you are looking for a sessionable Stout.

Rating:



Beck & Co (ABInBev) – Becks

Date: Saturday, January 29, 2011
Brewery: Beck & Co (ABInBev)
Beer: Becks
Category: Premium American Lager
ABV: 4.80%
Brewed in: Germany

The beer is a pale yellow that is quite light for what is assumed to be an all malt beer.

The head is pure white and developed two fingers thick in my pilsner glass. Head retention was lacking and no lacing was noted.

The aroma is, to be honest, boring and skunky. There is a grainy smell with a stale hop presence. The dominant smell here is skunk. Damn green bottles…

The taste is smooth and crisp but again the skunky odors are making it up the back of the mouth and influencing the taste. I can barely pick up on the malt and the hop presence is faded and stale. The beer just does not taste fresh.

The body and carbonation are moderate and the mouthfeel is the best part of the beer. It does go down quite easily but without much else to be impressed by.

Very reminiscent of other euro lagers or mass brewed beers of the style. When picking from that lot I wouldn’t judge this choice but there are better beers of the style to choose from at an equivalent price point. Check out your local producers.

Rating:



Alley Kat – Unity Brew (2010)

Date: Friday, January 28, 2011
Brewery: Alley Kat
Beer: Unity Brew
Category: American Amber Ale
ABV:
5.00%
Brewed in: Canada (Edmonton, AB)

Unity Brew is a collaborative project between several Alberta brewers to raise money for the Kidney Foundation and various smaller local charities. Eleven of the twelve brewers in the Province were a part of this brew. The brewing took place at Alley Kat but the recipe is cooperatively written by all eleven.

Unity Brew 2010 pours a deep copper color with a thick tan head. Retention was moderate and produced a large amount of lacing.

The aroma is predominantly of caramel and lots of hops. There is also a bit of fruity notes in it – dark fruit the malts are also apparent but overpowered by the other notes. There is definitely a nutty aspect to the smell.

The taste is sweet and malty and there is something that makes me want to say “dark fruits” here but I’m not sure that is exactly what it is. There is hint of citrus and spices present. You can taste something nutty – I say hazelnuts there. Overall the taste is great but it is difficult to pinpoint which may be a result of the collaborative effort on the recipe. Tough to pigeonhole this one but easy to enjoy it.

It is medium bodied and light to medium carbonation. It has a smooth feel going down and is very easy to drink. Tastes quite fresh. I was so busy sipping it to try and isolate the flavors that it was gone in no time.

Rating:



In-depth: Beer in North America – Where are we and how did we get here?

Purpose

What I want to do with this article is delve into what the current beer industry and beer scene in Canada and the United States looks like and what some recent and not-so-recent events have done to get us here.

The simple truth is that our countries, compared to European countries, are adolescents in terms of National history but even more so when it comes to beer. The history behind beer and other alcoholic beverages in North America has a profound and pervasive effect on the beer we can easily obtain at our local liquor stores.

I want to get into the difference between macro breweries, micro breweries, and craft breweries and discuss how they simultaneously produce the same product (i.e. beer) but entirely different products. This will touch on issues of economics, greed, corporate responsibilities, and passion for beer. (more…)


Les Trois Mousqetaires – S.S. Rauchbier

Date: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Brewery: Les Trois Mousqetaires
Beer: S.S. Rauchbier
Category: Classic Rauchbier
ABV:
6.00%
Brewed in: Canada (Brossard, QC)

Rauchbier (smoked beer) is apparently a very difficult style of beer to find in Edmonton. This was one of the few examples I could locate. It is brewed out of Quebec and is quite highly rated. I was excited to try this one.

As a quick background and side note, many people think of Rauchbier as an interesting novelty or specialty brew these days. The history behind the style of beer though is much richer. It may have been the only style of beer brewed in Germany at one point as they traditionally dried out their malts over a fire. This inevitably imparted smoky characteristics to the beer. Since other methods were developed the Rauchbier only lives on through brewers who choose to maintain the process.

On to the tasting.

It pours almost as dark as a Stout but when held to the light reveals a deep chestnut color. I poured aggressively and a thick and appealing two finger head developed in my 1 liter dimpled stein. The head endured for minutes and left some sticky and stringy lacing on the glass.

The aroma, obviously, was quite smoky. If you could liquefy the experience around a campfire this is likely what you would get. The smoke aroma reminds me specifically of smoked bacon or wood chips. Despite the strength and uniqueness of the smoke you can still easily identify the malts in the nose. The more subtle presence I can pick out is dark fruits.

The taste is very bold and flavorful. It is very rich and malty and reminds me a bit of ales brewed Belgian style. The finish is all smoke. The taste of smoked wood and smoked meat lingers satisfyingly after the swallow. You can still pick out the dark fruits along with a new touch of caramel and dark chocolate.

The beer is medium bodied with noticeable but light carbonation. It has a smooth mouthfeel and is bit thicket in the mouth that a straight lager or ale.

Some say you get accustomed to the smokiness by the end; however, I must have sipped it slow enough as I was accustomed to nothing by the end. It was very enjoyable and a pleasing first foray into rauchbier.

Rating:



Coopers – Sparkling Ale

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Brewery: Coopers
Beer: Sparkling Ale
Category: Specialty Beer (Australian Sparkling Ale) 
ABV:
5.80%
Brewed in: Australia

Coopers Sparkling Ale is technically an “Australian Sparkling Ale” which is not a specifically recognized style of beer by the BJCP. We would hope the next official release of  BJCP guidelines would include this style. For the time being it is specifically referenced as falling under “Specialty Beer”.

In terms of what type of beer it is similar to? I have seen others refer to it as an “English Pale Ale” or EPA.

The beer pours a attractive golden and is cloudy which is a result of the beer being unfiltered and bottle conditioned. In fact, the yeast in the bottle has another distinct effect.

If you are wondering why it is called “Sparkling Ale” – check this out:

The head developed one finger thick and an almost pure white. Retention was very average and minimal lacing occurred.

The aroma I get it sweet malts, some bready yeast, and subtle hints of hops and citrus notes. I think it kind of smells like how it looks if that makes sense.

The taste begins a smooth with a crisp maltiness that gives way to the hops and a more bitter finish. There are definite fruits notes here with citrus being obvious. The other influence is harder to identify – maybe apples or pears. Again, the finish is hoppy. Very balanced overall.

The mouthfeel is light to medium. It is smooth but at the same time quite carbonated.

Overall, I found this beer to be extremely refreshing and thirst quenching possessing some very subtle complexities to keep me interested. I would have never tried this beer if I hadn’t been given that “Beer a Day” book. I am glad I did. This will surely be a staple of my warmer-season beer roster.

I would also add that this beer has the complexities and subtleness to it’s character that most beer geeks would enjoy it but, at the same time, it has the perfect blend of qualities (and price) to give to your non-beer geek friends to get the started on quality beer.

Last comment: next time you want to toast to Australia, put down the damn Foster’s and grab a Cooper’s. Aussie’s will notice and thank you.

Rating:


 

 


In-depth: Aging Beer

If you have started to get into the craft beer scene you have probably started to read various sources of beer reviews or ratings. You may be surfing on ratebeer or beeradvocate and have obviously somehow found this blog.

Through these travels you likely have encountered examples of beer that has been aged months up or years. Many beers continue to improve with age.

I know in my reading I have come across numerous instances of this. What confused me was that I would see some beers that were considered to get worse with age. These beers were recommended to be consumed as soon as possible. This actually applies to virtually all mass-produced beers you will find.

This led me to wonder what the difference was and how I could identify beers that would benefit from me purchasing and aging them. Lots of beer aficionados will purchase beer of a particular vintage, sometimes numerous bottles, then leave them to sit for a few years. You may then sample the same beer of different vintages or agings. This is known as a “vertical” tasting. (more…)


Dundalk – Smithwick’s Ale

Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Brewery: Dundalk
Beer: Smithwick’s
Category: Irish Red Ale
ABV:
5.00%
Brewed in: Ireland

This Irish Ale is a clear amber with a rusty tint to it. It pours with a one finger white head. Head retention was moderate and lacing was present but not in huge amounts.

The nose is very subtle with a faint malty aroma. There are notes of caramel and hops but, again, very subtle.

The taste is clean and reminiscent of a lager. The malt leads the flavor march and tastes a bit more grainy than the aroma. Caramel is again present but understated. The yeast and hopes are present but very hard to detect. They taste very clean – almost fresh – but are quite understated.

The mouthfeel is soft and it drinks very clean and crisp with a somewhat dry finish. Medium carbonation.

This Ale seems to straddle a couple lines with lagers but is quite refreshing and very easy to drink. This is another beer to remember when you aren’t looking for something new or extremely interesting and just want a reasonably priced six pack for some event. In fact, if you have friends who aren’t big into the beer scene this might even be quite interesting for them.

Rating:



In-depth: Beer in Munich

Background

My wife and I were in Munich for about 4 days in September of 2009. While there we learned a great deal about the local beer, it’s history, and the beer culture so ingrained in the German state of Bavaria. Munich immediately seized a special place and meaning for me and I continue to be fascinated by all things beer. This has lead me to write this piece to share what I know about beer as it relates to Munich.

While we traveled we took a “Beer and Brewery” tour with a local guide that also taught English classes to the local Bavarians. He would always invite his English class students along on the beer tour to provide them an opportunity to polish up their English and to add an authentic presence to the tour. Not a bad idea in my opinion.

I should note it was these gentleman who informed me that people living in Munich or elsewhere in Bavaria do not often consider themselves “Germans”. They prefer to be called “Bavarians”. I can’t speak to how much of a biased comment this was. This is me in the front and the two Bavarian dudes along for the tour in the back:

Me and some locals at the Hofrbrauhaus

I don’t have a specific idea of what I want to write about – so this could get long…click to keep reading

(more…)


Traquair – House Ale

Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Brewery: Traquair
Beer: House Ale
Category: Strong Scotch Ale
ABV:
7.20%
Brewed in: Scotland

Traquair House Ale pours a dark chestnut color that is virtually impenetrable by light. The head developed one finger thick even with an extremely aggressive pour. There was minimal lacing and short retention.

My nose is picking up on a handful of similar aromas: roasted malt, toffee, caramel, and molasses. They all balance each other out quite well.

The taste was not as loaded as the aroma. I only really notice roasted and nutty caramel and toffee. It is surely less complex then smelling the beer let on.

The mouthfeel is quite light and carbonation is low to medium. The alcohol content of 7.2% is not any more noticeable than a beer with 5%. It goes down quite easy.

The individual aspects of this beer are less than the sum of its parts. My general overall impression of this beer is quite positive. It has very complimentary flavors, smells, and mouthfeel that combine for a very enjoyable drink.

Rating:



Rogue – HazelNut Brown Nectar

Date: Monday, January 24, 2011
Brewery: Rogue
Beer: HazelNut Brown Nectar
Category: American Brown Ale
ABV:
6.22%
Brewed in: USA

Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar (aka Bald Guy Brown) pours a hazy brown and develops a one finger foamy tan head. Retention was noticeably short and lacing was absent.

The aroma is dominated by hazelnut and general “nutiness”. I pick up on a mild chocolate smell and a bit of brown sugar which is likely the sweetness from the malts coming through. It is not a very complex nose but it is well balanced.

The taste echoes the aroma and is also dominated by hazelnut with an understated chocolate flavor. The beer is very sweet (maybe too sweet for some tastes?). The taste is great but the sheer power of the hazelnut is distracting and makes isolating other flavors difficult. I found as the beer warmed slightly that the hazelnut became less overpowering. At this point the beer was revealed to have a definite quality brown ale base.

The mouthfeel is creamy but with high carbonation. When holding the beer in the mouth longer to pick up on the flavors you get a pretty tingly tongue.

This was a fairly one-dimensional beer albeit a very enjoyable one.

Rating:




Ratings retrofit

I hadn’t really thought about it – but I don’t currently have any way for someone to gauge my general “ranking” or opinion of a beer. For that reason I am going to undergo a “ratings retrofit” and amend all my reviews to date to include a rating. I typically do this on http://www.ratebeer.com anyway, so I will just round those ratings to the nearest whole number.

I am going to rate beers out of five pints.

1 pint is a disgusting liquid that should be injected back into the horse (or moose) weiner. These are beers I wouldn’t ever drink again even if they were free.

 

 

5 pints will represent a heavenly brew that beer lovers should go above and beyond to obtain. We are talking about beers that epitomize their respective styles.

I will then use these ratings going forward for new reviews.


Beer Tasting – Unibroue Night

I am planning a beer tasting night on February 5, 2011 with 4 of my closest friends and fellow beer lovers.

Really the night will just be a hang out time with the guys but we are going to make the beer drinking center around beers from Unibroue and share our thoughts on each one. I sent a list to everyone to choose their top 5 picks. I’ll tally the votes up and see which 5 have the most. Check back after February 5th and I’ll post my review on each of them.  You can see a quick summary after the jump or go to http://www.unibroue.com to check them out.

(more…)


Duvel

Date: Friday, January 21, 2011
Brewery: Duvel
Beer: Duvel
Category: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
ABV:
8.50%
Brewed in: Belgium

Pours a cloudy yellow with a bit of an orange tint. The head develops rapidly and reaches four fingers of thickness. It is white and very fluffy. The head retention is insane. It literally doesn’t recede until you drink it.

The aroma is earthy and a little grassy with some sweet malts. The hop smell is amazing and screams quality ingredients. There are some light fruit notes – maybe bananas and oranges. Quite understated but adds a bit of complexity.

The taste echoes the aroma with added elements of lemon and some spice – cloves maybe?  The taste is sweet from the malts but balances with the floral hops and the funky belgian yeast. The alcohol becomes increasingly more apparent as it warms but is never overpowering or unwanted.

The beer has a moderate body and medium to high carbonation with a dry finish. The beer is very effervescent and is mesmerizing to just watch through the bottom of your tulip glass.

Rating:




This is the picture KingBobyJr originally commented on:

Sleeman – Honey Brown Lager

Date: Saturday, January 22, 2011
Brewery: Sleeman (Sapporo owned)
Beer: Honey Brown Lager
Category: Dark American Lager
ABV:
5.20%
Brewed in: Canada (Guelph, ON)

I had this beer on tap at Devaney’s Irish Pub in Edmonton. A friend and I split a pitcher. The beer is a clear light golden brown and head pours a thick and creamy white – about two fingers. Retention and lacing are both surprisingly good.

The aroma is very faint and I am hard pressed to detect much of anything. I can smell some sweet malt. Despite how much I try I can not pick up on any honey.

The beer tastes very sweet and malty. I still don’t pick up on any honey although that might be what is causing the sweetness. I also taste no hops.

The beer is lightly carbonated with a light body. It is quite smooth.

There was nothing disgusting about this beer but there was also nothing stellar. I wouldn’t ever intentionally seek this beer out. When you are going to be drinking a couple pints and your other options end in “Light” or “Lite” or advertise their drinkability – this is a good choice.

Rating:



Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Brewery: Kiuchi
Beer: Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Category: American Stout
ABV:
7.50%
Brewed in: Japan

Pours clean black resembling a dark cup of coffee with a cappucino colored head. The head was thick and about two fingers in the glass provided at the Sugar Bowl. It faded rather quickly and left decent lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of espresso beans and dark chocolate. There is a distinct burnt smell. The coffee notes smell like a fresh espresso.

The taste is of strong and old coffee. The freshness you would hope for in the espresso flavor is lacking. Something is off about it (a bit of research has shown me this is probably because they add espresso beans directly to the boil). There is a nice taste of dark chocolate and roasted malts. There are not hints of hops in the beer.

The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety with gentle carbonation. The mouthfeel was one of the more impressive parts of this beer.

This beer was not terrible but I consider this type of beer one of my favorites and can name at least three direct competitors that are clearly superior. Don’t shy away from giving this one a try but you will likely find yourself lead away permanently by better coffee/espresso stouts.

I should point out that my choice of category of “American Stout” doesn’t fit the BJCP guidelines. It should technically go into category 21 or 23 for specialty or coffee beers. But in reality it is a stout. It isn’t really an Imperial but it is 0.5% stronger than the range for American Stout. Many would call this a “double American Stout”. So I decided to put it in American Stout.

Rating:




Central City – Red Racer India Pale Ale

Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Brewery: Central City
Beer: Red Racer India Pale Ale
Category: American India Pale Ale
ABV:
6.50%
Brewed in: Canada (Surrey, BC)

This was the second beer I ordered at the Sugar Bowl while there for the cask night yesterday. I will admit upfront that I have had little exposure to IPAs in the past. I am starting to get familiar with the style now. So I have little to compare this to and can really only comment on my personal opinion.

The beer pours a transparent but rich amber with a creamy looking white head. The head receded fairly quickly two about one fingers and from there retention was incredibly long.

The aroma is dominated by citrusy grapefruit in which you can also detect both pine notes. The grassy American hops are evident in the aroma.

The taste is just loaded with hops and and an overpowering amount of grapefruit. I kid you not – every sip I took just confirmed that this beer tastes predominantly like hoppy grapefruit. The flavor is not overly complex but you can taste the malt character which has hints of caramel. The finish is bitter hops.

The mouthfeel is relatively smooth and the beer is well carbonated. It is an easy beer to drink if you are accustomed to and enjoy the bitter characteristics of an IPA.

Rating:



Sugar Bowl Cask Night – Alley Kat Belgian Wit

Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Venue: Sugar Bowl
Brewery: Alley Kat
Beer: Belgian Wit
Category: Witbier
ABV: estimated 5.00% (they didn’t tell us!)
Brewed in: Canada (Edmonton, AB)

I didn’t really take the time to seriously take notes on the tasting of this

beer because I was extremely thirsty and hungry after standing for an hour and a half to get a table. I was lucky there was still beer left in the cask! The Sugar Bowl is a great venue and this is a fantastic event but it was certainly pushing the limits in terms of capacity.

Anyway, on to the beer. The beer poured an extremely cloudy yellow. Belgian Wit beers are unfiltered so the cloudy was expected. The color of the beer was a bit of a surprise for me. It looked appetizing. The beer was brewed with orange and coriander so you can expect something a little citrusy.

There was a very frothy and foamy white head on the beer which left a lot of lacing on the glass. Retention was average.

The beer smelt of oranges, I really didn’t note a lot else.

You could taste the wheat beer base to this with a bit of the funky notes from Belgian yeast. The overpowering flavors were of oranges. The coriander was there but was subdued. I think the beer was a bit heavy on the oranges. It almost tasted like someone mixed some wheat beer with Orangina.

The beer was enjoyable but I think leaves some room for improvement. I did not order a second one but instead opted for a couple other beers off the Sugar Bowls extensive menu.

Reviews on those to come.

Rating: