journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

Posts tagged “Tasting

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Anchor Steam Beer

Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Brewery: Anchor
Beer: Anchor Steam Beer
Category: California Common
ABV:
4.90%
Brewed in: United States

Anchor Steam is a nice medium amber color – even a little tint of orange. The beer pours with a fluffy one finger head with a very long retention that leaves some impressive sticky lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of malted barley with some slight hop notes. There is not a lot of complexity to the aroma and I can’t tell if I am “forcing” a smell but there may be hints of some fruits and other grains I can’t identify.

The taste is similar to the aroma consisting mostly of malted barley with the hops taking a stronger presence in comparison. The taste is a little sweet with the fruit notes and a bit of nuttiness coming through. A very enjoyable flavor that is not too heavy. This could easily be a session beer.

The beer is moderately carbonated and the moutfeel is tingly but smooth. Light to medium body.

A very pleasant beer and I would recommend it when you aren’t looking to find something new and crazy but just want a straight up beer with a little class.

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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.

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