Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Parsons Brewing Company traditional German pilsner.

I love trying a brand new beer from a brand new brewery, so I was relishing the chance to try Parsons traditional German pilsner, a brewery owned by a relative of mine, Chris Parsons, out of Prince Edward County, Ontario.  PEC is known more of a wine than a beer destination, but the county is really making a name for itself in general as being a place to get local food and drink, so Parsons should fit right in to that scene.  They are in the process of building a new, proper brewery so in the mean time are brewing from a temporary location, but despite the close quarters and temporary nature of their brewery they have made a tasty and smooth pilsner.

It's quite blonde in colour as is is befitting a proper pilsner, and fortunately it has no sediment which is a problem that some new beers have if you are not a fan of sediment. This is a clear and promising sign that they take a lot of care when brewing.  It's brewed with two different types of hop which is something that you notice right off the top as it's a decently hop forward beer with distinct floral and almost woody notes but not a beer that has so much hops that it will turn people off.  From this hop forward tongue it progresses into a surprisingly sweet, almost Vienna lager-esque middle, a surprising and welcome change in pace from the hop forwardness. After this sweet middle it trails off into a slightly bland and fairly watery finish, which was a bit of a let down after the promising intro and middle but not so bad that it ruins the whole beer experience.  This is a very promising beer, this batch tasted like it was bottled quite young so future batches where they let it ferment for a bit longer could turn out to be excellent.  My father and grandfather, both fairly set in their beer ways, really liked this beer so to me that's confirmation that this has the potential to be a beer for everyone to enjoy.  

Their brewery and tap room is still under construction, but you can get their beer at the County Canteen in Picton, ON and they are hoping to have it on tap in other locations in Prince Edward County soon. I'm definitely looking forward to trying more of their beers and visiting them when they have completed their new space, which I am told should be sometime in August if all goes well.

Rating: 3.5 Steins
ABV: 5%
IBU: 35

What you need to know

County Canteen
279 Main St. W
Picton, ON
K0K 2T0



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Farnham Ale & Lager: The 35 Bitter

I love a small town brewery, they harken back to the days when you went to the local baker to get your bread, the local butcher to get your meat, and the local brewer to get your beer.  Farnham is a town in southern Quebec that is more known for it's railways than it's beer, but they have an excellent brewery in the aptly named Farnham Ale & Lager.  Unlike a lot of Quebec breweries, Farnham's lineup contains a lot of English and German style beers as opposed to the Belgian styles that are common in the province.  Their Bitter is styled as a British Ale, but it falls a bit flat compared to similar beers of the style.

35 Bitter pours a light brown so it certainly looks the part but from there it goes a bit downhill.  The nose is nice and malty, with a hint of clove and spice to it so it has the makings of a very good beer.  On the tongue you get a decent bitter flavour to it, the hop forwardness is quite nice, but this nice intro isn't followed up with a good middle or finish.  The malty nose never properly materializes as you get a watery and slightly acidic finish before a second round of hop punch to it.  It's not a terrible beer by any standards, it's just uninspiring.  The promise of malt and spice leaves you let down as those flavours don't come out when you actually drink the beer.  There are other, better bitters out there than Farnham's

It's available in depanneurs and grocery stores in Quebec as well as at their breweries both on draught and for off sales.

Alc 5.0%
IBU: 35
Rating: 2.5 Steins

What you need to know


401 Blvd Normandie N
Farnham, QC J2N 1W5

82 Ethan Allen Dr.
South Burlington VT 05403




Thursday, May 26, 2016

Microbrew times at the 100th Indy 500 - Sun King Sunlight Cream Ale

Greetings readers from Indianapolis, Indiana where I have come to watch the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500!  Over the next few days I will be sampling a variety of local beers, for science of course, and writing about them here!   My first review is of a cream ale by one of Indianapolis's oldest craft breweries, Sun King.  Cream Ale is a classic east coast beer style that is an extremely approachable alternative to lagers.   Sun King have an interesting take on the style with this refreshing beer.

I'm drinking it from a tall can, so the nose is hard to describe, from the can it's quite mild but out of a glass it probably is a lot more pronounced.  The best word I can use to describe the progression of a sip is "escalation".  It starts out being fairly watery and un-intresting but the cream ale goodness really shows up through the middle of the sip before being punctuated with a hoppy and slightly bitter finish.  This is not a hoppy beer per se, but the hop presence is more pronounced than in other cream ales.  It's smooth and easy going but some lager drinkers may be turned off by the hops, on the other hand those who like more bitter pale ales will really like this as it hits that hop button.  I found that the balance was a bit odd, but still a refreshing brew.

It's available in bottle shops and in bars and restaurants throughout Indiana.

Alc 5.3%
IBU 20
Rating: 3.5 Steins

What you need to know

135 North College Ave
Indiana, IN

7848 East 96th Street
Fishers, IN




Sunday, May 15, 2016

Steamworks Kölsch

The LCBO in Ontario tends to get quite a lot of criticism as a government controlled monopoly, but one thing they do well is stocking craft beer and they are always getting better as more and more craft beers from across Canada start making their appearance.  Steamworks brewery of Vancouver BC were a pleasant find for me as I looked for new beers to try, so I decided to give their kölsch a go.  kölsch is a beer style that originated in Cologne, Germany and is very much a part of the culture there.  A good kölsch is a sweet, light coloured lager that is usually served in tall, thin glasses.  In  kölsch pub in Cologne the glasses are quite small but I drank it from a traditional pint glass poured from a tallboy.  Regardless of the glass type, this is a very good example of the style, a nice and refreshing brew.

It pours a light yellow colour, which is a good sign for a kölsch, anything remotely dark will usually mean the beer is too heavy for kölsch.  The nose has a delightful sweet aroma with a touch of hops that helps release the beery goodness.  On the tongue you get a really nice and sweet flavour that belies a proper kölsch, this sweet intro progresses into a fairly full bodied (for a lighter beer) middle that progresses into a slightly bitter and hoppy finish.  A good kölsch will not be complicated but won't be watery, which Steamworks have done really well here.  It should be easy drinking but consistent and balanced which this has gotten spot on, this beer is very clean and refreshing.  Your macro-lager drinking uncle would really like this, a great intro to craft beer and a reminder to all the craft haters that there is more to this beer sector than pumpkin spiced IPA's.  Consumed on a hot day with a barbecued mild sausage (such as a bratwurst) this is an excellent beer.

It's available at their brewpub in Vancouver, at the LCBO in Ontario and I presume across BC and potentially in other parts of Canada.    

Alc 4.8%
IBU 22
Rating: 4 Steins

What you need to know



Brewery/Brewpub address
375 Water St.
Vancouver BC
V6B 5C8

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tooth and Nail - Valor Saison

Saison is one of those beer styles that gives brewers a bit of a "carte blanche" to let their brewing creative juices flow.  Originally developed in the French speaking parts of Belgium, Saison's are usually quite heavily carbonated and contain wheat and other grains.  Tooth and Nail's Saison is brewed with four grains, barley, wheat, oats, and rye which makes it a very unique concoction, however I found it to be a bit of a let down.

Valor is complicated. The nose is pretty bland, quite watery and doesn't really have a strong smell but as the sip starts is when it gets interesting.  The intro to the sip (the tongue) is very sweet, overwhelming wheat and banana flavours make it feel like a traditional wheat beer, but as the sip progresses it starts to go all over the map.  From a banana intro it moves on to a really watery and acidic middle, making it seem as though there is too much grain.  The sip tapers off with a mineral water flavour, something that is quite common among Tooth and Nail beers.  There isn't much of a hop presence but the 4 grains means that there is just way too much going on here.  It's decently easy to drink but I found that the acidity to be off-putting.  Brewing is already a complicated process, but tooth and nail have doubled down on the complexity with this 4 grain beer and when you add it to the already flavourful and minerally water they use, it becomes a bit of a mess.

It's available in 500 ml bottles and on draught at their brewpub/bottle shop in Ottawa.

Alc 6%
Rating: 2 steins

What you need to know


3 Irving Ave.
Ottawa, ON



Friday, April 29, 2016

Kichesippi Dartmouth Common

Kichesippi have really been expanding their styles recently so there is usually something new to try.  In this case it is a style that is very old, but new to most beer drinkers, I'm talking about Dampfbier.  If you haven't heard of Dampfbier that's OK, it's a centuries old German style that has all but disappeared from the beer spectrum.  It's a steam beer that was once known as the beer for the common folks, hence the common in the name, although the Dartmouth part was named as such by one of the members of the Kichesippi staff who is from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

It pours a very deep brown, much darker than your average English brown ale and almost as black as a schwartzbier, another German style.  On the nose you get a very strong malt and caramel smell, which makes sense as they advertise it as all malt.  As you take a sip you get this extremely malty taste that is accented by some mild clove and wheat hints.  Through the middle it can be a tad thinner than the nose would suggest, but that trails off into a slight bitter hop finish.  This really isn't the beer for the hop enthusiasts, but malt fans like me will really like it.  It's smooth, malty, and slightly sweet with that slight bitter finish.  It's very nice, I'm just sad it's only a seasonal!

It's available at the Kichesippi brewery, the LCBO, and on delivery from my good friends at (if you live in Ottawa).

Rating: 3.5 steins

Alc 5.1%

IBU 14

What you need to know

Brewery address
866 Campbell St
Ottawa, ON K2A2C5




Friday, April 22, 2016

Driftwood brewery Fat Tug IPA

Hops, one of the four pillars of brewing.  When brewed in concert with malt, water, and hops it can do amazing things and produce amazing beers.  Over time people have added, subtracted, made extracts, and used different varieties of hops to produce different recipes.  When the craft brew movement started, the tend was up, up, up in terms of hop content to make some incredibly hoppy and bitter beers.  As more craft brewers came on board a sort of arms race developed to produce some of the hoppiest beers imaginable.  Unfortunately these beers came to be very difficult to drink and gave craft beer a rather unfortunate reputation as being all about the uber hoppy IPA and not about making beers to appeal to a wider swath of the beer drinking population.  Fat Tug is a bit of a throwback to these wild west years of hoppiness, strong, bitter, and a very good IPA, if that's your sort of thing.

It pours a deceptively pale straw colour, not something you would necessarily associate with a beer of this strength.  On the nose you get that trademark citrus taste that IPA's are known for, but it's not overly pungent.  On the sip you get smacked right across the face with hops, make no bones about it, this beer is hoppy and strong with very strong grapefruit flavours.  As the sip progresses it actually smooths out quite nicely into an almost creamy middle with sweeter fruit such as mango notes before the hops come back for round 2 with a punch finish.   It's a very interesting and well balanced beer, but I feel as though the went a bit overboard with all the hops.  The IBU count is in the 80's, but that's a bit unnecessary.  This would be just as good, if not better a beer if it was in the 65-70 IBU range.  If you love hops then you will really like this beer as it is quite balanced, and even someone like me who isn't an IPA fan can appreciate the balance of it, I just feel as though I would appreciate it more if they toned down the hops a little.   

I honestly don't know the extend of the distribution network.  It's brewed in Victoria, BC and a bottle ended up in my fridge after a party.  Their website doesn't indicate how far across Canada it is sold, but the LCBO doesn't list it among their products.  If anyone knows more about the distribution network please let me know and I'll update this post.

Alc 7%

IBU 80+

Rating: 4 steins

What you need to know

Brewery Address
102-450 Hillside Ave
Victoria, British Columbia