Saturday, February 6, 2016

Waterloo Spiced Dunkel

Dunkel is a German word for dark, and Dunkel beer is a dark lager.  Most dunkels tend to be malty and sweet but not overly hoppy so I was looking forward to Waterloo's as they tend to make some really good German style beers, however their seasonal spiced dunkel is a bit of a disapointment.  

It pours a reddish brown colour (they call it mahogany colour) with minimal head.  The nose is quite interesting, with strong hints of pumpkin, cloves and other spices which gives the drinker the impression of this being an interesting and complex beer.  On the tongue you get a sweet and malty taste, but those spice notes you anticipate from the nose don't make the early appearance.  As the sip progresses, the flavour does indeed pick up as you get a nice nutmeg and clove tasted in the middle of the sip before it trails off into a watery finish. The nose really makes you think it will be a really complex and spicy beer, however it seems to fall a bit flat.  It's not a particularly bad beer, it's malty and smooth but the promise of spice doesn't pan out.

It's available at the LCBO and beer store in tallboys as well as at their brewery in Waterloo, ON.  It's a winter seasonal so only available for a little while.  

Alc 6.1% 

Rating: 2.5 steins

What you need to know

400 Bingemans Drive
Kitchener, ON
N2B 3X9




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tooth and Nail: Truce

Warning, this is a seriously dangerous beer.  It's sweet, smooth, and strong so you definitely need to be careful when you give this a try.  They call it a Holiday Ale, and were making it and selling it mostly during the holidays so I had picked myself up a bottle.  As it's a 750 ml bottle and 8.75% I needed to dedicate an evening to drinking it, as I didn't figure I would be very productive afterwards!

It pours a cloudy brown colour, with a creamy brown head.  On the nose you can smell the malt, this is one malty beer!  When you first take a sip you get a fairly smooth, sweet, and fruity start, the label talks about fig and raisin flavour, as I don't eat a lot of figs and am not a fan of raisins I am not really in position to validate this, but it does taste of dried fruit.  As the sip progresses you get a really mellow and smooth yeasty and malty middle, very smooth and tastes a bit like fresh bread.  The hop presence only really shows up on the finish, as it finishes with noticeable but not overwhelming hops.  As I said in the intro, this is high test stuff, it's really smooth and easy to drink but at 8.75% you need to handle with care.

It may not be available anymore (sorry about that) but Tooth and Nail have a variety of beers for sale at their brewery/ brewpub at the corner of Irving Ave and Wellington West in Ottawa's up and coming Hintonburg neighbourhood.

Alc 8.75%

Rating: 4.5 steins

What you need to know


3 Irving Ave.
Ottawa, ON



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Beyond the Pale: Mullet

After a bit of a hiatus the microbrew times is back with a beer by my favourite local brew artists, Beyond the Pale.  This is one of their Belgian IPA's, and a toned down version of their very tasty but very dangerous Party Animal.  I say toned down because it doesn't have as much alcohol as the Party Animal (5.8% vs. 9%) but still contains a lot of flavour.  As someone more partial to British beer styles than Belgian ones I can say that I am pleasantly surprised by this latest creation by the BTP boys.

It pours a cloudy and wheaty golden brown as a proper Belgian IPA should, which is a good omen.  The nose is quite hoppy and bitter, it really smells like a wheat IPA so on the nose I was a bit apprehensive.  The sip starts with a front load of hops that may be off putting to someone who is not familiar with IPA's, however it isn't as hoppy as some craft IPA's and APA's.  Fortunately those hops don't end up overwhelming the beer, it progresses into a smooth and wheaty middle that is actually quite sweet.  Notes of mango and pineapple are quite noticeable through the middle of a sip before those strong hops make a return for a finishing touch.  It's a surprisingly complicated beer that I really enjoy.  I also like the party animal but as a smaller guy I find it hard to enjoy in moderation, Mullet is a great alternative.

It's definitely available in growlers at the brewery on Hamilton Ave in Ottawa, you may also be able to find it on tap, their website only lists pubs and restaurants that BTP beers are sold, but they don't list which beers you can get.

Alc. 5.8% IBU 49

Rating: 3.5 Steins

What you need to know

Brewery Address:
5 Hamilton Ave N
Ottawa, ON
K1Y 1B4


Twitter: @BTPBrewing


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Alchimiste Imperial Stout

Alchimiste are one of the up and coming breweries in Quebec, and one that make an excellent variety of beers.  I have tried a number of them, but not the Imperial stout, so when the opportunity arose it was only natural that I give one a try, for research obviously.  Now, Imperial stout is not one of my preferred beer types.  I tend to find them too strong, too bitter, too boozy, and usually acrid tasting so to say that I was apprehensive about Alchimiste's version is an understatement.  As it turns out those preconceived notions (as they often are) were unfounded.

I had it from a bottle, poured into a glass and I knew I was on to something I could drink by the surprisingly mild nose.  Most Imperial stouts announce their bitter credentials immediately, so the mild nose was a welcome surprise.  I guess when you are brewing beer for Russians (who have a well founded reputation for hard drinking) then you don't normally worry about smoothness.  When you take a sip, it's hard to follow a traditional sip pattern of tongue, middle, and finish, this one sort of mixes the tongue and middle into one satisfying taste.  It's nice and malty, with the roasted malt flavour being very prominent, accented by some mild chocolate hints.  This progresses into a distinct coffee flavour that is really prominent on the finish, but it doesn't dominate the beer.  Most Imperial stouts have a really acrid finish, like you are drinking espresso, but the coffee finish on this version is much more tempered, more cappuccino than espresso.  This is really a fine example of Imperial stout, and one that I would be willing to try again, although handle with care due to the high alcohol content.

It's available in depanneur's and grocery stores throughout Quebec as well as on draught in a variety of bars and restaurants.

Alc 7.9% IBU 60

Rating: 4 Steins.

What you need to know


Brewery Address
681 Rue Marion
Joliette, Quebec
J6E 8S3


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Black Oak Nut Brown Ale

English Brown Ale is a great beer style, I'll just throw that out there.  It can be malty, complex, and yet not hoppy enough to turn people off.   Brown Ale was one of the beer types that convinced me that there was more to beer than fizzy lager so I have always had a soft spot for it and always pounce on the opportunity to try a new one.  I am actually surprised I had never had Black Oak's Nut Brown before, maybe they haven't been selling it outside the GTA for that long, but I found it in Ontario's much maligned Beer Store so I decided to grab myself a six pack.  

It pours a proper brown colour, lighter than some but darker than more popular brown ales (I'm looking at you Newcastle) so it definitely looks the part.  The nose is a satisfying malty flavour with strong caramel and coffee notes to it but neither of those are dominant.  They advertise chocolate notes as well, although I didn't really notice that, coffee and caramel yes but chocolate not so much.  On the intro to the sip you really get the coffee flavour, the malt is quite front loaded but not over the top which I quite like but it sorta disappoints from there.  After the coffee and malty intro it really falls off badly, I found the middle and finish to be quite watery with a hit of hops on the finish.  It is certainly drinkable but I found that it was a little bit disappointing given the promising intro and nose.  I certainly am willing to give this more time (I have 5 more in the fridge) but first impressions are that it needs work. 

It's available at the beer store, the LCBO, their brewery in Etobicoke as well as in some bars and restaurants in Ontario.

Alc 5% 

Rating 3 Steins

What you need to know




Brewery Address
75 Horner Ave, #1-
Toronto, ON

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tree Brewing Company: Cutthroat West Coast Ale

One phenomenon of the Craft Beer revolution is that geographic monikers get added to beer styles.  Until recently you never had an American Pale Ale, or a California Pale Ale or indeed a West Coast Pale Ale so breweries often take creative license with the definitions.  In my mind West Coast Pale ale is synonymous with American Pale Ale, which is synonymous with a whole pile of hops, however they only advertise this as being 38 IBU (and is just called West Coast Ale) so I didn't know what to expect, as it turns out I got a pretty good beer.

Cutthroat pours a nice burnt orange colour, which as loyal readers will know, is what I consider a sign of a proper pale ale so it was already promising.  The nose is not strong, but has a nice subtle sweet malt smell to it, some beers have really potent noses and weak tastes, this one has a weaker nose but good taste so that is a plus.  The sip opens with a slightly watery and minerally taste, this can be a bit deceptive as it progresses into a very sweet malt middle.  They say it has toffee notes, which I agree with, it's actually more like caramel to be specific but it's quite nice.  This sweet malt progresses into a distinctly ale-like finish with a surprisingly citrussy hop taste to it.  The hops don't have much of a presence until the finish/aftertaste but they are a welcome addition.  Overall it's an interesting beer, it starts as a sweet malty beer that is reminiscent of a Vienna lager (Stiegl and Gösser are good comparative examples) but the finish is an assertive reminder that this is indeed an Ale.  I find that the watery intro is an odd contradiction that makes me struggle to fully enjoy the beer, it's good but not great.

It's brewed in BC but distributed across Canada.  In Ontario you can get it in the LCBO, a full list of cities is available on their website.

Alc 5.0% IBU 38

Rating: 3 Steins

What you need to know




Brewery Address
1083 Richter St
Kelowna, BC

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Underdogs Brewhouse, All or Nothing Hopfenweisse

One of the many advantages of Ontario relaxing their prohibition era liquor laws is that the LCBO is carrying more and more interesting craft beers, so when I dropped in last night I had to pick up a few new ones, for research purposes of course.  One of the ones I picked up was All or Nothing Hopfenweisse I beer type I don't normally drink by a brewery I had never heard of.  It's all part of the adventure of being a reviewer, and unlike other reviewers of other things I get beer, so without further ado, let's find out if this was a win, or a loss.

Underdogs are a rare breed of craft brewery in that they only brew one beer, hence the name all or nothing.  The rationale behind this is that you focus all of your efforts to make one beer really well, and Underdogs describe it as a beer unlike you have never seen before so I was looking forward to it.  It pours a cloudy orange colour, underscoring it's weisse credentials (which is always a good start) and on the nose you get very strong banana notes with an assertive wheatiness that really shows a lot of potential.  As a result of  the nose I was really looking forward to having a taste but sadly the nose is really the strong point of the beer.  As the sip starts you get an overwhelming taste of pretty much nothing unfortunately.  It starts with a mineral water flavour that progresses into a light beer esque middle that trails off with a slightly sour and bitter beery taste. I couldn't detect any of the tasting notes they have on their website so writing this review was quite difficult.  I really wish there was more to this beer as it is a pretty easy drinking brew, but it really doesn't taste like much.  It's a shame because the pour and the nose have so much potential, but the overall product is a letdown.  I wish every brewery success but I fear these guys won't go very far with a product that falls this flat, unfortunately I won't be buying it again.

It's available at the LCBO as well as at bars and restaurants throughout Ontario. 

Alc 5.1% IBU 25

Rating 1.5 steins. 

What you need to know




Brewery address
1100 Skae Drive
Oshawa, ON L1J 7A1