journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

4 Pints

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:


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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:



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:

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:



North Coast – Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Brewery: North Coast
Beer: Old Rasputin
Category: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV:
9.00%
Brewed in: United States

Old Rasputin pours an extremely deep and dark brown. One finger of brown, frothy head was produced from the pour that has moderate to long retention. Substantial lacing occurred on the glass as the head slowly eased back into the beer.

The aroma is very robust and almost screams with a sharp and bitter chocolate mixed with dark roasted coffee beans. I can detect coffee in this brew but I wouldn’t call it a coffee beer. They are subtle given the strength of the other layers. I can smell the slightest hint of hops and of alcohol.

The taste of this beer really shines. In order of prominence I am getting astringent roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, hops, some dark fruits, and molasses. The aftertaste lingers for minutes after and is dominated by dark roasted bitterness. The flavors both balance each other out and conceal the alcohol. It is clear to see why this beer has such a cult following (either that or everyone are just fans of the lover of the Russian queen).

The mouthfeel is smooth and full. It almost feels thick and coats your mouth as it goes down. The beer isn’t “sticky” and finishes quite dry.

I had purchased and drank this beer on the recommendation of Jim Pettinger (Purchasing Manager at Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton) when I went in for some Guinness for Halloween a few years back. So I already knew it was good. The interesting thing about giving it a real in depth look this long after is how much my beer tastes have changed. Back then, when I had not sampled many world class brews, this beauty almost seemed just overly alocoholic. I remember being shocked by the 9% and flavor but feeling tipsy after a bottle.

Ahh, how times change. Memories aside – if you consider yourself a fan of Stout or Russian Imperial Stout and you haven’t tried this brew, go get in touch with your Russian mystic as soon as possible. It may even kick start your love of Russian Imperial Stouts as it did for me.

Rating:



Struise – Pannepot

Date: Sunday, January 16, 2011
Brewery: Struise
Beer: Pannepot
Category: Belgian Specialty Ale
ABV:
10.00%
Brewed in: Belgium

Purchased 2007 vintage from Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton. Poured a dark hazy brown with a huge tan head. Head was enlarged due to an amateur poor by myself – came  in over two fingers. The beer was darker than I anticipated but is very appealing. Head retention was surprisingly short and virtually no lacing occurred.

The aroma is incredibly complex. There are dark fruits immediately present with cherries most noticeable and plums and raisins in the background. It took numerous sniffs to identify but the other prominent aroma I can detect is brown sugar. The aroma has numerous other treasures to discover but my nose was not feeling up to the task on this day.

The taste mimics the aroma and includes a lot of dark fruit, some brown sugar, and a bit of a bready taste. I also taste roasted malts and some chocolate that were not foreshadowed by the aroma. The finish almost has a faint coffee taste and betrays the presence of the 10% ABV.

The mouthfeel is not incredibly smooth or harsh – occupying that middle ground. Carbonation is moderate as well.

I have too many world-class beers lately. It is making me sound like I think every beer I try is the best I’ve ever had. Well not to go that far – but this beer is easily on the top 5 list. Ratebeer.com had it rated as the best beer available for purchase in Edmonton. It is pretty damn close to that.

Rating:



Mikkeller – Beer Geek Breakfast

Date: Friday, January 14, 2011
Brewery: Mikkeller
Beer: Beer Geek Breakfast
Category: Oatmeal Stout
ABV:
7.50%
Brewed in: Norway

Beer Geek Breakfast pours a very deep dark black. The beer cascades a bit to develop a one finger tan head. I noticed the head looks a little lighter where it contacts the beer and slightly darker where it contacts the air on top. This reminds me of the crema in espresso. (Check the picture of the beer to the left and then click here to see some espresso I made recently).

Head retention was moderate and faded into a thin collar. Minimal lacing was left on the glass.

The smell is very appealing to a beer and coffee lover. You definitely smell some coffee but the dominating aroma is roasted malt. Other notes are of dark chocolate and perhaps a hint of licorice. This beer has been named appropriately.

First sip immediately reveals that the flavor profile of this brew is complex. Initially tastes of bitter dark chocolate which progresses to roasted malts and finishes with a definitive coffee aftertaste. I find that as this beer warms slightly the flavors really shine. I favor the coffee which comes out deliciously once the beer has sat a few minutes.

The beer is smooth and somewhat thick in the mouth with medium carbonation. I have tried (and reviewed here and here) several other coffee stouts or porters. This one just usurped the throne as my personal favorite.

I have another Mikkeller coffee based beverage in my fridge right now that may prove to be the true king. Check it out at the Mikkeller site. Should be interesting considering one of its ingredients is derived from weasel shit.

Rating:



Rochefort – Trappistes 10

Date: Thursday, January 13, 2011
Brewery: Rochefort
Beer: Trappistes 10
Category: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
ABV:
11.30%
Brewed in: Belgium

Pours a very murky dark brown with a fairly large fizzy head. Head retention is impressive but leaves minimal lacing.

Aroma is a veritable buffet of dark fruits including raisins, plums, figs and grapes. There are notes of caramel accompanied by yeast, molasses and some brown sugar. It is an incredibly complex aroma that took me several minutes and a dozen sniffs to dissect and I still think there are more notes to uncover.

The flavor is a rich combination of the same notes in the aroma. I taste some chocolate that didn’t stick out in the nose along with the raisin, plum, fig, grape, caramel, yeast, molasses, and brown sugar. You can barely taste the 11.3% ABV hidden amongst the flavors but you are reminded it is there with the pleasant warming feeling the brew brings as you swallow. I would describe the beers dominant flavor profile to be sweet rather than bitter. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with medium carbonation.

I find the beer goes done smoother and smoother as it warms to room temperature. A stunning combination of flavors are found in this beer.

I would again highly recommend this beer to any beer nerds out there. I am creating quite a streak of amazing beers this past week. Probably because I just decided to do this blog and have been buying all the superstars.

One caveat to note – this is a big beer. I wouldn’t be serving this to any beer newbies. You need a developed appreciation for beer before you should tackle this giant.

Rating:



Unibroue – Maudite

Date: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Brewery: Unibroue
Beer: Maudite
Category: Belgian Specialty Ale
ABV:
8.00%
Brewed in: Canada (Chambly, QC)

Unibroue - MauditePurchased this beauty in a 750 ml bomber from Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton. Before I even give you the review I need to do a plug for this brewery. If you haven’t sampled the brews coming out of Unibroue – you need to do so as soon as you can. They are all quality. Check them out here.

Pours a deep cloudy ruby color with a thick two-finger near white head. Head retention was very respectable with noticeable lacing.

The nose for this brew is very sweet. I detect an earthy clove-like smell, some sweet fruitiness, some fairly potent yeast-funk, with a slightly bitter finish. This aroma is complex and inviting.

The taste of the beer is strong and very rich, in other words, it is what you expect from the nose. Flavors are malty with evident citrus notes. Hints of berries or fruitiness come through with a dry partially bitter finish.

The mouthfeel is more assertive than I was anticipating for the style. It goes down very smooth given the ABV and gives your tongue a nice tickle.

The Belgian characteristics of this beer are up front and center and come through the bountiful aroma and flavor profile. None of this comes across as over the top though.

Overall, this is an absolutely exceptional product. I am proud of Unibroue and the fact I can say this beer was brewed in Canada.

Rating:



Mill St – Coffee Porter

Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2011
Brewery: Mill St
Beer: Coffee Porter
Category: Robust Porter
ABV: 5.50%
Brewed in: Canada

Pours a deep black through which almost nothing is visible even when held up to the light. The head developed rather short and thin with little retention. By the time I could even snap a picture the head was already disappearing. The head is a light tan color.

The aroma of this beer is exciting as you smell two things immediately: roasted malt and coffee. First the burnt malts dominate the smell and then give way to coffee. It smells very similar to immediately after I grind my coffee beans. To someone who loves both beer and coffee this aroma tempts me (like no other beer has) to make it a permanent addition to my personal breakfast menu. I immediately worry that the taste won’t deliver on the promise the aroma has made.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly bubbly for a porter. The initial notes in the taste are of very roasted dark malts with a hint of syrup. I find the coffee is overpowered initially. The aftertaste is definitely of coffee. It is delicious and lingers very long. You can tell quality coffee was used in this beer. The coffee taste is of better quality than you find in certain $4 cups of coffee. It may even make you wonder which beverage you drank.

There is a bitterness in the taste throughout the initial taste lasting quite a while after you swallow. There is not a great deal of complexity to the taste. About two or three dominant and complimentary tastes done very well.

I think this beer is amazing for the price. It is certainly going to be found in my fridge often.

Rating: