journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

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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:


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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. Read the rest of this page »

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

Read the rest of this page »

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.

Read the rest of this page »

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: