Canada’s 150th! Beer #4! Picaroons Traditional Ales + Central City Brewing

Time just runs away when you are always out and about!  I need to hire an assistant now that I’m retired.  haha.  Today, I’m sampling beer #4 in the Collaboration Across the Nation! beer collection.  The collaboration in this instance is Central City with Picaroons Traditional Ales.

I’m working my way from East to West and this was a difficult choice for me.  Geographically, Quebec is further east than New Brunswick but the breweries I’ve been sampling have been geographically correct East to West.  Next in line was Picaroons!  They make traditional English-style ales (hence the name).  An interesting note about Picaroons–this is not their only 150th Collaboration.  They have brewed an historical ale using traditional methods … see the link here.  I need to get my hands on one of these!  🙂

Ok, to the beer … to re-recap, I will be using the 2015 BJCP Guidelines to score this beer based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

The Evaluation.  The beer is called RESTORED HOP(E). From the description: “New Brunswick was largely founded by French descendents and United Empire Loyalists which inspired the province’s motto “Spem reduxit”, meaning “hope is restored.”  For this reason, we have brewed the classic English style of an extra special bitter.”

Since the ABV is 5.6%, and looking at the description, this beer falls in the category 11C – Strong Bitter.

Aroma. A medium biscuity, bready malt aroma upfront followed closely by medium caramel notes.  Very low floral, resiny hop aroma.  Medium fruity esters (apple/pear) present as well.  All to style  (10/12 pts).

Appearance. A bright copper color with a light tan head — quite large with excellent retention.  Brilliant clarity. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Med-high hop bitterness with a medium malt flavor (bready, biscuity) in support.  Medium floral hop flavor comes through into a very dry finish.  Bitterness and floral notes linger into the aftertaste.  Low caramel flavors blend with light fruity esters to give a nice fermentation complexity.  (16/20 pts).

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium-high carbonation.  Slight carbonic bite.  No astringency. Low alcohol warmth.  Not creamy — crisp!  (4/5 pts).

Overall Impression. This is a fantastic example of the style!  Very drinkable, great aroma and flavor.  Wonderful balance for style — only mark would be that it is just a tad too carbonated.  Otherwise, great!  (8/10 pts).

That’s 43 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Excellent category.

Thanks, again, to both breweries for producing a wonderful Extra Special Bitter.

Beer Mentor

Canada’s 150th Beer #3! Garrison Brewing + Central City Brewers

In celebration of Canada Day, I’m sampling beer #3 in the Collaboration Across the Nation! beer collection.  The collaboration in this instance is Central City with Garrison Brewing.

This is a cool one for me … back in June of 2010, my daughter and I went to Halifax and I had a chance to visit this brewery.  It was a great place, right on the pier, the beers were excellent and I think, still worth a stop!  If you are in that area give it a visit!

Here’s my photo from 2010!  I think the place still looks the same.  However, they have built a new brewery.  Congrats to them!  Ok, onward to the beer … to recap, I will be using the 2015 BJCP Guidelines to score this beer based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

The Evaluation.  The beer is called “New” Scottish Ale. From the description: “In Latin, Nova Scotia literally means “New Scotland.”  To celebrate Canada’s Scottish roots, we have brewed up a lightly peated Scottish Ale.”  This is a tough one to categorize.  Since the ABV is 5.5%, it would fall in the category 14C – Scottish Export.  However, because the brewers mention “peat,” I’ve decided to judge it in category 32A – Classic Style Smoked Beer.  Basically, the smoke flavor should be supportive and supported by the Classic Style selected (in this instance, 14C).

Aroma.  Low smoky phenolic right up front but doesn’t overpower.  Light toasty, bready malt in support.  No esters.  No hop aroma.  As it warms, the smoke begins to dominate the biscuity malt character. (7/12 pts).

Appearance.  Pours to a bright copper color with a small off-white head.  Does not persist.  Bubbles continue from the bottom of this clear beer. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Big, smoky phenolic (peat) flavor at first.  Peat lingers well into the aftertaste.  Medium high hop bitterness balances but does not dominate.  Finish is quite dry.  Subtle pomme-fruit esters show up in the middle.  Light floral, spicy, earthy hop flavor as well.  Medium levels of malt (bready, grainy, toasty) are there but balance is to the peat/hops.  Should be the peat/hops in support instead.  Clean ale fermentation character. (13/20 pts).

Mouthfeel.  Medium body with medium carbonation.  Peat blends with carbonic bite to lend a slight astringency. Expected a little creaminess for style–not there. (4/5 pts).

Overall Impression.  This is a very drinkable beer, but the peat is distracting, especially in the aftertaste.  Recommend doing away with the peat altogether.  Maybe add some crystal/caramel malt and reduce the hop bitterness by 1/8.  That should swing it right into style! (7/10 pts).

That’s 34 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Very Good category.

Thanks, again, to both breweries for producing this nice, refreshing “New” Scottish Ale!  Cheers to them and to Canada on this special day!

Beer Mentor

Canada’s 150th #2! P.E.I Brewery with Central City Brewers

Across the Nation Collaboration!

This is the second post in this series … as mentioned in the previous post, Central City Brewers and Distillers has collaborated with twelve other breweries in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

Working my way from East to West, the next in the series is from Prince Edward Island.  The aptly named brewery is P.E.I Brewing Company.  Their brewing history reaches back to 1997 and continues strongly through today brewing award-winning beers.

As in the previous post, I will be using the 2015 BJCP Guidelines to score each beer based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

The Evaluation.  The beer is called “Biere d’ici Honey Ale.”   From the description: “Prince Edward Island may be small but it is also known as the birthplace of Confederation.  Brewed with local PEI honey and maritime grown hops, this brew is a lighter take on the bière de garde style.”

With this description, I will judge this beer under category 24 (Belgian Ale) with the sub-style being 24C … Bière de Garde.  I will add my notes for the categories from above and then score it based on the total points available.  My assumption with this “Honey Ale” is that the honey was used to add flavor and aid in the dry finish.

Aroma.  Medium-low bready malt character that fades away.  I detect some Pilsner-ish malt notes.  Very light honey accents, but not overpowering.  A low, floral hop nose in support, but very faint.  No esters perceived. (8/12 pts).

Appearance.  Pours to a light copper color with a small, off-white.  Does not persist.  Bubbles continue from the bottom of this brilliantly clear beer. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Grainy, bready malt character up front.  Again, pilsner malt seems prominent.  Light honey notes.  Medium hop bitterness competes with malt for balance.  Malt and hop bitterness both linger into the dry finish.  Aftertaste is more toward the hop bitterness–not to style.   Clean lager fermentation character. (13/20 pts).

Mouthfeel.  Medium body with high carbonation.  Low alcohol warmth. Very effervescent.  Not astringent.  Expected a little creaminess for style–not there. (4/5 pts).

Overall Impression.  This is a very good beer — quite drinkable!  The honey is a nice addition.  For the style, especially with an amber version, I would expect a little more malt character in both aroma and flavor.  Also, the hop bitterness is a little high for style — maybe reduce the bittering hops by 15 – 20 percent?  Otherwise, cheers!  (7/10 pts).

That’s 35 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Very Good category.  A big thanks again to both breweries for making this one! As noted above from the description, the “lighter take” on the style is probably why the malt flavor/aroma is a little more subdued.

Enjoy!

Beer Mentor

#63: Bruxellensis Festival of Characterful Beers (93) [DEFUNCT]

Note: Finalizing blogs on “Places on the Growler List.”  

This is #93 on the list … I hit a milestone with this entry … I’m made it over halfway there on the All About Beer Magazine’s “Growler List” 125 best places in the world to have a beer.

However, this is also a substitution … if you’ve read through my blog, you will see that some of the entries I’ve modified slightly.  There are two types of modifications–first, if the venue is closed, I substitute (what I feel) is an appropriate replacement.  The other is a “suitable sub.”  For instance, I’m not a fan of SEC football, so I substituted another “experience” entry.  I did that for about 5 entries (I think).  This entry, #63 for me, is a substitute for a defunct festival: Bruxellensis.  I’m sad about that because the festival looked very interesting.  My replacement, though, is a fantastic option (I believe).

The Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival (formerly in Vail, CO but now in Breckenridge, CO is incredible.  If you go to just more than the festival — you can spend the whole weekend celebrating beer at this event — all the better.  Sign up for seminars, sessions, cigar tastings, etc, etc.

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This event entered its 16th year in 2017 and you can really appreciate the maturity.  There are scheduled activities starting even earlier in the week and continuing through Sunday.  The basic format is — beer dinners/tastings/seminars/competitions early (Monday through Friday) and then the big Festival on Saturday.  And this is about Big Beers!  How about a 1994 Triple Bock from Boston Brewery?  The Utopias at 28%?

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Many of the craft industries long-time members really go all out in support of this (Dogfish Head, Avery, and the Lost Abbey to name a few (Oh, and Boston Brewery?  see above)).

However, you also get the newer entrants in the industry as well — all focused on big beers or Belgians … and not just big, but great beers.  If you look at the link above and walk through some of the activities, i’m sure you’ll agree … worthy of a place on the list and as a replacement for Bruxellensis.

Finally, this is also on Beermentor’s 100 Places list … now there are two officially, this Festival and Russian River Brewing.  I will be adding my list soon … really.  🙂

Enjoy!

Beer Mentor

Napa Alternative: Bear Republic!

I was recently in Napa Valley doing some “wine country” touring.  Having had my wine fix and needing to chase it with a beer AND since I was heading north from there (from Calistoga) I decided to roll through Healdsburg, CA and visit Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Located right downtown they have a nice location, excellent patio, and cool staff.  The beer is excellent, you can do the samplers, and the food is excellent as well.  Marcin Furmankiewicz, the restaurant general manager, really takes the time to make sure you feel welcome.  You can tell they like what they do!

Definitely west coast style ales!  The tasters are a nice size and they will give you related flights.

Although they are in a shopping plaza (aren’t most really cool craft breweries now??) they make full use of the space.  Check out the barrel room if given the opportunity … they even have some hops growing out back!

The Racer 5 IPA is their well known beer. However, drink them all and see what you think!  Enjoy,

Beer Mentor

Russian River Brewing: Great Selection/Awesome Place (Beer Mentor’s 100 Places)

Hello Beer Mentees!  As I have moved away from completing my “Growler List” I still have a couple of tasks on my list to complete … first, I’d like to post the entries for those places I did visit.  Secondly, I intend to build my own list of “100 Places to Drink Beer.”  This place is on that list!  Russian River Brewing!

Entrance to the Russian River Brewing “Brew Pub.”

If you are in San Francisco or are visiting Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley you can make a quick detour over to Santa Rosa, CA and stop at the BrewPub for a bite to eat and a few brews.   You can order a sample flight … and what a sample flight!

All the beers on the tap list at once … 18 beers.  Did anyone say Pliny the Elder?  Yes!  All the beers are excellent but there is an obvious focus on the Hops.  If you are a West Coast Hophead you definitely want to visit!

Not only is it a great place for beer, the food was excellent (and so is the service).  If you visit on the weekend you should plan on standing in line for a little while — and that includes your whole group!  They have a “no cut” policy in their line — so, if you think you might show up early and hold a spot you’ll be drinking alone for a while waiting on your group to clear the line!  However, it’s worth the wait!  There’s parking in back.

Here’s a look at the bar … even that takes standing in line!  🙂  Within 50 miles or so?  Worth a drive over.  If you don’t want to stop at just one place on the detour, you can also add Fogbelt or Third Street Aleworks to your list of places too.  Enjoy Santa Rosa!

Beer Mentor

Celebrating Canada’s 150th! Hop To The East …

Across the Nation Collaboration!

Central City Brewers and Distillers has collaborated with twelve other breweries in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary.  What a great idea!

To join the celebration, I’ve decided to use my BJCP skills (National-level certification) to evaluate each of the 12 beers.  I will be using the 2015 Guidelines and scoring each one based on Aroma (12 pts), Appearance (3 pts), Flavor (20 pts), Mouthfeel (5 pts), and Overall Impression (10 pts).  You can see the standard score sheet here.

I’m going to work my way from East to West so the first brewery in the collaboration is Quidi Vidi Brewery in Newfoundland.  From the pictures I see they have a great location–if I can make it happen I may see if I can stop in for a visit! 🙂

The Evaluation.  The beer is called “Hop to the East” Hefeweizen.  According to the description: “Canada’s most eastern province is Newfoundland, and taking a north eastern take on the hefeweizen style, this beer was brewed with new-age tropical hops to give a fruity, aromatic twist on the classic German style.”   Because of this description, I will judge this beer in the Specialty Category with the base style being 10A — Weissbier.

Ok … here goes!  I will add my notes for the categories from above and then score it based on the total points available.

Aroma.  The clove phenols are the first thing I perceive–there is a low spicy (peppery) note as well.  Fruity esters (banana) join early and are well supported by the tropical hop nose.  There is a medium wheat malt character that helps balance the nose on this beer nicely (10/12 pts).

Appearance.  Pours to a straw-color with a big, white long-lasting head.  Haze as expected for a hefeweizen.  Tight bubbles with apparent effervescence. (3/3pts).

Flavor.  Moderately high phenols (cloves, spicy, peppery). Fruit esters (banana) in solid support.  Medium hop flavor (tropical) very complementary of the phenols/esters.  Medium hop bitterness balances well with a moderate wheat flavor.  A perceived medium sweetness follows into a semi-dry finish.  Aftertaste of banana and cloves.  Clean fermentation characteristics.  (16/20 pts).

Mouthfeel.  Medium-light body with high carbonation.  Very effervescent.  Not astringent (5/5 pts).

Overall Impression.  Tropical hop notes fully support this classic hefeweizen.  This is a light, refreshing, well-balanced example of the style (even with the hop additions).  Well done.  (9/10 pts).

That’s 43 out of 50 points bringing this beer into the Excellent category.  The only thing I might suggest to bring it up into the outstanding category is a touch more body.  Otherwise, a great beer!  I hope the other eleven stand out like this one!  A big thanks to both breweries for making this one!

Beer Mentor