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

Breweries
135 North College Ave
Indiana, IN
46202

7848 East 96th Street
Fishers, IN
46037

Website
sunkingbrewing.com

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/sunkingbrewing

Twitter
@sunkingbrewing

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

Website
http://steamworks.com/brewery

Twitter
@steamworksbeer

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

Website:
http://toothandnailbeer.com/

Brewery/Brewpub
3 Irving Ave.
Ottawa, ON

Twitter
@toothnailbeer

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/toothandnailbrewingcompany?fref=ts

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 brewdonkey.ca (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

Website
http://www.kbeer.ca/

Twitter
@kichesippibeer

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/KichesippiBeer

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
V8T1Y7

Website
http://driftwoodbeer.com/

Twitter
@Driftwoodbeer

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/driftwoodbeer/


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Covered Bridge Brewing: Seoirse the Great

Irish Red Ale is a beer type that can bring some mixed opinions.  Some find it to be an overly sweet style, while others find it to be a nice, smooth and malty ale.  Personally I am somewhere on the fence, I have had some fantastic Irish red ales as well as some really disappointing ones but I tend to be optimistic about them. They are a beer style you can give to people who think craft beer is all about uber hoppy IPA's or pumpkin spice beer to prove that there are a lot of different beers out there, Irish red is a beer that can be enjoyed by a larger segment of the drinking population.  Thanks to my good friends at brew donkey, I found myself with as growler of Covered Bridge's Irish red and a junior hockey game on the radio, time to do some sampling and writing!

It doesn't pour red, I'll throw that out there right away, it pours an extremely dark brown, almost black colour.  The nose is extremely malty and toffee-like, smells very thick and flavourful but it sorta goes downhill from there.  On the tongue you get all of the hops out of the way, a bitter intro that smooths out into a malty middle.  The toffee and coffee flavours are quite pronounced, but the consistency isn't great, pretty watery but at least it's flavourful.  From the nose I was expecting a much more full bodied beer, but it turns out to be fairly watery, which is disapointing.  To give the beer credit, it is quite smooth and easy to drink, but I found myself a bit let down by it.  The strong nose is a tease for a beer that just doesn't make it in terms of consistency.   I would still drink it again, but it's not covered bridge's finest.

It's available in growlers at their brewery and on order through brewdonkey.ca.  You may be able to find it at bars and restaurants in Ottawa, however I can't confirm that.

 Alc 6%

IBU 22

Rating: 3 steins.

What you need to know
Brewery address
119 Iber Road, Unit 6
Stittsville (Ottawa), ON
K2S1E7

Website:
http://www.coveredbridgebrewing.com/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/coveredbridgebrewingco/

Twitter
@CBbeer

Friday, April 1, 2016

Whiprsnapr brewing co #wreckingcrew pale ale

Thanks to my good friend Brad at Brewdonkey, I often get a chance to try some interesting beers, so when it was time to make my latest order I decided to give Whiprsnapr's beers a go, and this is the first of those I'm trying.  Whiprsnapr are yet another welcome addition to the Ottawa craft beer scene, I have tried a few of their beers at festivals before and have generally been impressed so having a chance to drink a proper glass of their beer with the opportunity to write about it is quite exciting.  Their #wreckingcrew (the hashtag is a part of the name) is part of a rotating group of beers that they claim they brew every Wednesday, so next week's #wreckingcrew (OK I know the hashtag is annoying) could be different from the one I'm drinking, which is a single malt pale ale.

It pours a cloudy straw yellow colour with a hint of orange to it.  The nose is very sweet with some decently noticable hops, the sweetness is almost maple or honey-esque in nature but with this hop addition, very interesting.  The tongue is decidedly mild, again extremely sweet with an almost fruity/honey taste to it, not overly malty but very sweet.  As the sip progresses the malt and the hops make their appearance, providing a nice, beery middle that is very refreshing. The finish of the sip is where the hops really show their strength with a very strong citrussy bitter taste, which can be explained by the summit hops they use. It's an extremely interesting and complex beer that they may or may not make again.  I hope they do as it's really tasty, well done Whiprsnapr!

It's available at their brewery, as well as on order from brewdonkey.ca.  Unfortunately I don't know if they will re-do this recipe so you may be out of luck, but if this is an indication then their other Wednesday creations have a lot of promise, my only tip is lose the hashtag in the name!

Alc. 4.7%

IBU 38

Rating: 4 Steins

What you need to know

Brewery address
14 Blexley Pl, Unit 106
Nepean, ON
K2H8X3

Website
http://whiprsnaprbrewingco.com/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/whiprsnaprbrewingco/?fref=ts

Twitter
@whiprsnaprbrew

Online ordering
Brewdonkey.ca