Friday, 30 December 2016

Charlevoix "Dominus Vobiscum Lupulus" Triple

9% alcohol, 70 IBU

Hazy blond with aromas of lemon, bread, orange, and banana. The taste is quite smooth and blends the lemon and bread. Nice clean finish.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Le Trou du Diable "Grivoise de Noël" Strong Belgian Ale

7.5% alcohol

Dark amber with a small beige head and very Christmas-y aromas of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, yeast, and caramel, as well as a very light touch of bubble gum. The taste is crisp and has a nice spiciness to it with flavours of cinnamon and ginger.

Merry Christmas to me.

Acquired as a gift from a friend, but available in stores in Quebec.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Flying Monkeys "Chocolate Manifesto" Imperial Stout

Wow. If you like dark chocolate, this is the beer for you.  Opaque dark brown with a small medium brown head. The aromas are amazing. Dark, rich chocolate liqueur and chocolate milk, with just a hint of coffee beans. Just a touch sweet in the mouth, rich and smooth, with flavours mirroring the aromas plus just a touch of charcoal right at the end, giving it a surprisingly clean finish.

It would be hard to do a milk stout better than this. Buy a couple if you come across them as this should age quite nicely.

10% alcohol.
$12.95 at LCBO

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Pisano Cisplatino Pequeña Reserva Tannat Merlot 2012

Deep purple with loads of smokey blackberry, plum, blueberry, as well as a touch of earthiness and mint. The taste is big and well structured thanks to the Tannat, and has flavours of blackberry, plum, and cherry. Great value in this wine. Pair it with rare red meats or hard cheeses.

We need to see both more Tannat wines, and more from Uruguay.

$15.95 @ LCBO

Pouch Envy - Advent Calendar Day 24

It's the final day of this year's beer advent calendar!

Today's beer is from Refined Fool Brewing. It's their "Pouch Envy" Australian Pale Ale

5% alcohol, 20 IBU

Hazy pale yellow amber, and very lively with a big light head. The aromas are lemon, orange rind, oats, and tropical  fruits. The taste is smooth  and crisp, with the lemon and tropical fruit coming to the foreground. Clean finish.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Stinger - Advent Calendar Day 23

Trafalgar Ales "Stinger" Dry-Hopped IPA

7% alcohol, 78 IBU

A clear, very solid amber with a firm off-white head and subtle aromas, including orange, funky mango, and a touch of pine and oatmeal. Very smooth and rounded in the mouth with some caramel and toffee coming through as well as a touch of copper-iness. Despite the roundness, it is quite carbonated and comes off like a good quality ginger-ale.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Gateway Kölsch - Advent Calendar Day 22

For Day 22 we have the Gateway Kölsch from Sawdust City Brewing Company

5% alcohol, 20 IBUs

Pale gold, light aromas of lemon and lightly roasted malt. The taste follows with a touch of ginger as well. This is a much lighter beer than my usual style, but is quite nice. As an added bonus, this is the first actual Kölsch-style beer that I've had in my Kölsch glasses.  I love these glasses; 1/5 of a litre (6.8 fl oz), and just the right size for finishing before they get too warm.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Boneshaker - Advent Calendar Day 21

We're definitely into the home stretch of this year's beer advent calendar.

Day 21 is the Amsterdam Brewery "Boneshaker" Unfiltered India Pale Ale

7.1% alcohol, 80 IBU

A nice hazy orange amber with a small head and aromas of blood orange, toffee, and white flowers. The taste is clean and crisp with pine, blood orange, and grapefruit. A very nice IPA.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Black Coal Stout - Advent Calendar Day 20

Day 20 of the beer advent calendar brings us the Railway City Brewing "Black Coal Stout"

6% alcohol, 46 IBU

Opaque black with a thick, creamy medium brown head.

Aromas of coffee, chocolate, malt, and actual charcoal make this quite interesting. The taste is what you'd expect, mirroring the aromas nicely.  It has a nice creaminess and a surprisingly clean finish for such an extreme taste. Perhaps a nice pairing for this would be smoked cheddar cheese, or something harder, or dishes with a bit of chipotle.

Monday, 19 December 2016

La Formidable - Advent Calendar Day 19

For Day 19 of this year's beer advent calendar we have from
Gigantic Brewing Company "La Formidable" American-Belgo IPA

6.9% alcohol, 60 IBU

A hazy pale gold with soft aromas of mango, orange, pine, white pepper, and lemon. The taste is orange with a little tartness and honey with a little hop bitterness that hangs around in the finish.  A nice herbed roast chicken beer.

This is another of "Beau's B-Sides", made by a guest brewer on their premises.

Christmas Gifts from our Kitchen - Chocolate Bark

Just popping in with a wee break from all the beer advent calendar posts this month to share some of the Christmas gifts from our kitchen this year.

Once upon a time, I used to take it upon myself to make handmade chocolates. Not just at Christmas but all year round. Very time consuming and you need a lot of refrigerator/counter space for all that cooling down. Given that we now have three cats, cooling on the counter isn't an option.

So the last several years I have replaced the handmade chocolates with homemade chocolate bark! I make a tremendous quantity of the stuff (I bought 8.5 kg of chocolate this year)  and my secret weapon is my trusty slow-cooker. A co-worker shared with me his secret for making huge quantities of the stuff for his big Italian family celebrations and I've been using it since then.

I typically make at least three varieties. One with dark chocolate, one with milk, and one with white. My add-ins will generally vary from year to year but these are my three favourite combinations.

Dark Chocolate with Candied Ginger and Salted Cashews

White Chocolate with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Milk Chocolate with Toasted Almonds and Toffee Bits

I made six trays of each of these this year. Now we just have to find the time to get them all packaged up for giving.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Saint of Circumstance - Advent Calendar Day 18

Day 18 and it's another one from Collective Arts Brewing. This time it is their "Saint of Circumstance" Citrus Blonde Ale

4.7% alcohol, 19 IBU

Slightly hazy pale amber with a thin white head. The aromas are grapefruit, Mandarin orange, and light toffee and mango.

The taste follows nicely, and there's a crisp, clean finish that leaves just a trace of fruitiness. It reminds me a lot of their "State of Mind" Session IPA without the hops. This is a good, solid light ale that would pair well with fish, light pasta dishes, or hot weather.

And because the artwork is always so interesting, here's another photo.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Hopbot IPA - Advent Calendar Day 17

Day 17 of this year's Beer Advent Calendar features the
Hop City Brewing Company "Hopbot IPA"

7.1%ABV, 70 IBUs

Clear amber with a good head, with aromas of funky mango, buckwheat, caramel, orange, and a touch of burnt brown sugar. The taste is clean with medium darker malt and a little hoppiness showing and the brown sugar coming through.

Fairly well balanced as I didn't notice that the alcohol was at 7.1% until after I'd tasted it.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Goose Island Beer Company "Sofie" Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale

6.5% alcohol, 25 IBU

Hazy pale yellow in colour with a thin white head. The aromas include "Thrills gum", white flowers, lemon, and a touch of honey. There's also a little wild yeast-like sourness. The taste is similar, with the lemon coming to the front a little more.

Sawdust City Brewing Company "Lone Pine IPA" - Advent Calendar Day 16

Sawdust City Brewing Company "Lone Pine IPA"

6.5% alcohol, 65 IBU

Cloudy light yellow gold with visible sediment and a thin white head.  Aromas of toffee, grapefruit, orange, and pine. Crisp, clean taste perfectly mirroring the aromas with a little bitterness coming through in the finish. I'm a little biased as this is my favourite style of beer, but I really like this one. I'd pair this with just about anything.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Hockley Dark Traditional English Ale - Advent Calendar Day 15

Day 15 of this year's beer advent calendar is Hockley Valley Brewing "Hockley Dark" Traditional English Ale - quite a departure from the beers which have been featured so far in the calendar.

5% alcohol, 18 IBU

A clear medium brown with a small beige head. The aromas are oats, brown sugar, and buckwheat honey. The taste is smooth, with a little cola, burnt coffee, and orange.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Illiterate Librarians - Advent Calendar Day 14

Day 14 of this year's beer advent calendar is from Refined Fool Brewing Company. It's their "Illiterate Librarians" Grapefruit IPA

5.7% alcohol, 70 IBU

A very promising sounding beer, with a lot I like. It's a medium cloudy amber with a medium short-lived white head. The aroma is pine, caramel, grapefruit, and orange. Clean taste of grapefruit, orange, and toffee. A very nice beer with a clean finish and good balance. Pair with perhaps Fajitas.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Fire in the Rye - Advent Calendar Day 13

Day 13 and we're into the last half of this year's beer advent calendar. Today we have "Fire in the Rye" Roasted Rye Pale Ale from Double Trouble Brewing Company

6.1% ABV, 60 IBUs

Dark ruby amber with a thin head. Subdued aromas of oats, rye, and cinnamon. The taste is smooth and clean with oats, rye, and pine. Very clean finish with almost no aftertaste. This would pair well with roasted chicken.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Ransack the Universe - Advent Calendar Day 12

Good Day! And Welcome! It's the midpoint of this year's beer advent calendar.

Beer #12 is Collective Arts "Ransack the Universe" Hemisphere IPA

6.8% ABV, 85 IBUs

Yum yum, my current favourite IPA. Light amber with a medium white head. Loads of aroma, with grapefruit, toffee, ginger, orange, pine, and white flowers. The taste is ginger, honey, orange, and pine with great balance and a clean finish. Just a touch of hop bitterness at the end.

This beer goes with everything :)

And just because the artwork is so pretty, here's a photo of the other side of the can.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Innocente Conscience American IPA - Advent Calendar Day 11

For Day 11 of the Beer Advent Calendar we have Innocente Brewing Co Conscience American IPA "Purely Uncorrupted Bitter Ale"

5.7% alcohol, 80 IBU

I've tasted this beer before, as it's right in my wheelhouse, style-wise.  Amber with a medium white head, and aromas of over-ripe mango, grapefruit, pine, and cloves.  The taste is grapefruit and pine with a little caramel. The finish is clean, and despite the 80 IBUs, it's quite balanced.  I'm a big fan of big IPAs, so keep this in mind ....

Perfect for spicy curry, the hops knock back the spice quite nicely.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Collingwood Fireside ESB - Advent Calendar Day 10

Day 10 of the Beer Advent Calendar features The Collingwood Brewery "Fireside ESB" (extra special bitter).

5.8% alcohol, 40 IBU

A hazy dark orange-amber with a thin beige head. The aromas are oatmeal, brioche, caramel, and orange. Nice balanced flavours, leaning towards caramel and orange pith. Clean finish. A great beer for meat sandwiches, especially on light rye bread.

Edited to add (from Sheena): I couldn't find the Fireside ESB on brewery's website. I suspect it has been rebranded to the Kingpost ESB as the labels look remarkably similar, the ABV and IBU ratings are the same and the tasting notes are quite similar to Doug's above. So, if you are looking for this beer at your local purveyor of fine brews, I suggest you look for the Kingpost ESB - same artwork on the can except there's a crown where the flame is on this one.

Bodegas Carrau Reserva Tannat 2013

Deep purple with aromas of blackberry, plum, earth, and a little eucalyptus and dried herbs. Velvety in the mouth, with nice structured tannins and medium-high acidity. The flavours are plum, blackberry, and raspberry, and the finish is medium slightly tannic blackberry.

I'm a fan of fairly tannic wines, and I don't think we see enough Tannats in general. I'd pair this with charcuterie or hard cheeses. Also just a great wine for sipping in front of a fire on a cold winter night.

$15.95 at the LCBO

Friday, 9 December 2016

Forge & Fire Amber Ale - Advent Calendar Day 9

We're well into Week 2 of this year's Beer Advent Calendar. The brew for Day 9 is an Amber Ale from Forge & Fire Brewing Company. 5% ABV, 38 IBUs.

It's a hazy dark orange-amber with a very thin beige head. The aromas are caramel, coffee, oatmeal, rising bread, and orange. It's quite smooth and round with mainly coffee, oatmeal, and orange flavours.

I'm not generally a huge amber ale fan but I like this.

Edited to add (from Sheena): when I was adding the photo and links to Doug's tasting notes I made an interesting discovery. This brew is actually from Collective Arts! And if you've read the previous posts featuring beers from that brewery, you know that Doug is a fan. He didn't know that when he wrote his tasting notes - he doesn't visit the brewer's sites as he doesn't want to influence his own judgement by reading their tasting notes before writing his own.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Rhyme & Reason - Advent Calendar Day 8

The Beer Advent Calendar Day 8 offering is the Collective Arts Rhyme & Reason Extra Pale Ale. It has 5.7% alcohol, 55 IBUs

I think I've mentioned before that Collective Arts makes some of my favourite IPAs, and this one is kind of the mid-point of their lineup, between the "State of Mind" session IPA and the big "Ransack the Universe".

I really love this beer. It's a cloudy medium yellow-orange with a light white head. The aromas are fantastic; white grapefruit, peach, orange, pine, and caramel. I could just smell it all day. The taste is crisp and clean with lots of grapefruit and a touch of pine and orange.

And here's a peek at the artwork on this particular can. This is Label #62 - Faces by Oleg Portnoy. You can see all of the artwork from Series 6 over at the Gallery. One of the cool things about Collective Arts beers is that you can scan the label with the Blippar mobile phone app and hear the music, view the videos and bios of the artists.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to see what Day 9 has in store.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale - Advent Calendar Day 7

The first week of this year's Beer Advent Calendar is wrapping up with this Nordic Pale Ale from Kissmeyer Beer.
5.6% alcohol, 30 IBUs

Hazy medium yellow with a medium beige head. Right off the bat you get lots of white grapefruit aromas from this. Behind that there's a touch of white flowers, oranges, and pine, and behind that some caramel and dried herbs. Very pretty aromas. The taste is crisp and bright with the grapefruit and pine dominating. Very clean crisp finish. I'm a fan.

Reading the web site after the tasting, I see that this beer "features a unique northern-inspired medley of ingredients. Sweet Gale, Yarrow, Dried Heather Flowers, Rose Hips, and Cranberries comprise its balanced fruit-and-herb bouquet, while a Maple-Syrup addition rounds out the complex character of the beer". Wow. I have to say that even given my background, I can't pick up most of that in the aroma. Sheena picked up a bit of cranberry, but that's it. I like to think it's that it all becomes blended and intertwined creating new aromas. It really is a pretty beer.

Kissmeyer Beer is one of the Beau's "B-Sides" beers, produced in conjunction with guest brewers. The style of this harkens back to the time before beer was generally limited to only hops as the herbal addition.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Hops & Robbers - Advent Calendar Day 6

Today's beer advent calendar reveal is the Hops & Robbers Session IPA from Double Trouble Brewing Company. 5.7% Alcohol, 50 IBUs

This is a slightly hazy medium orange-gold with a thin white head. The aromas of this beer are pretty straightforward; toffee, orange, oatmeal, and a little cinnamon and pine. The taste is fairly round, with medium malt and a bit of hops showing. The flavour is mainly a light oatmeal and orange. Clean finish.

That said, Double Trouble needs a bit of a history lesson on what "session" generally means.  You can look it up yourself, but it's generally limited to beers of less than 5%, and usually more towards the 3-4% ABV level. This is actually labelled both "Strong beer" and "Session IPA", and I'd argue that is it neither.

I hate it when meaningful things become meaningless marketing terms.

If you want to try a great example of what a session IPA should be check out this one from Day 1 of the calendar.

Monday, 5 December 2016

All or Nothing Hopfenweisse - Advent Calendar Day 5

Today's Beer Advent Calendar reveal is the Hopfenweisse from All or Nothing Brewhouse.  It has 5.1% ABV and 25 IBUs.

Hazy orange-gold with a thin head. Aromas of peach, grape candy, white flowers, and tropical fruit.

The taste is crisp and clean, with flavours mirroring the aromas.

A light and happy beer that would be nice with light cheeses. I'm pairing this tonight with leftover lemon chicken stew.

If you feel the urge to try this one for yourself, you can actually pick it up at your local LCBO!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Wine and Cheese Pairing

At my last wine tasting with Natalie MacLean, we were given some cheese from a local producer and were challenged to find a good Ontario wine pairing. Here's my choice.

This cheese is great on its own, so I thought going "like for like" would be a nice approach. I wanted to try a find a good red wine pairing for this, and after trying a few potential wines, the Henry of Pelham 2012 Pinot Noir jumped out as a great match. The smokiness and light tanginess of the cheese blended in to the smokiness of the wine, with its added bright fruit characters just adding the right amount of sparkle without taking anything away.

I tried some bigger wines and was surprised that the best pairing was a Pinot. I think in this case, the body, flavour, and tannins are all at just the right level for this cheese, enhancing it without overpowering. Once again, Henry of Pelham doesn't disappoint. If you're a red wine fan, this is the pairing for you.

Riptide Rye Pale Ale - Advent Calendar Day 4

When I opened Day 4's entry for this year's beer advent calendar, I found the Forked River Brewing Company's Riptide Rye Pale Ale with a 5.7% alcohol.

Slightly hazy medium orange-amber with a fine white head. The aromas are fairly subtle, with rye cereal, orange, cinnamon, floral, and caramel. The taste is well balanced, crisp, and slightly rounded with medium malt, orange, floral hops, and cinnamon. The hops show a little more bitterness in the finish.

The balance of this beer makes it nice for those that are not into super hoppy, super-dark, super floral, etc, beer.  It's got flavour, body,  and character, but doesn't push the envelope.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Alpha Bomb - Advent Calendar Day 3

Day 3 what will it be?

Today's selection from this year's Beer Advent Calendar is the Big Rig Brewery Alpha Bomb

It's an unfiltered IPA with 6.6% alcohol, 87 IBU

Big Rig is local, and makes at least a couple of beers that I enjoy. I've had this before in growlers, and the canned version is pretty much bang on, give or take. It's a very slightly cloudy medium orange copper colour, with a small, fairly dense beige head. The aromas are pine, creamy caramel, orange, and a little orange melon. The taste is clean and crisp with lots of hops and pine, orange, and caramel flavours.

I'm going to try this with a dinner tonight of a Pasanda (creamy coconut and peanut) Chicken Curry  and rice, and I expect it to pair quite well.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Scottish Ale - Advent Calendar Day 2

Day 2 of this year's Beer Advent Calendar is a Scottish Ale from Highlander Brew Co, South River, Ontario

A clear medium-dark copper with a fine beige head. The aromas are coffee, rye, oatmeal, and orange rind with a little copper. It's fairly soft and round in the mouth, and a little creamy, with flavours of rye, slightly burnt coffee, and orange. Great beer for medium cheeses or pastrami sandwiches.

5.4% alcohol

Their web site has an 8% alcohol version of this called "Wee Heavy" that should be quite nice based on this beer.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

State of Mind Session IPA - Advent Calendar Day 1

Up front, I need to say that Collective Arts Brewery is currently one of my favourite craft brewers, mainly because of their wonderful "Ransack the Universe" Hemisphere IPA. I went into this knowing they do good work.

This is their session IPA, called "State of Mind", in 500 ml can format. 4.4% ABV, 38IBUs. As with all of their beer, the container is adorned with one random picture from a series (you can view the gallery of all the series here). Each type of beer they do has a collection of several dozen pieces of art, all done by different, fairly unknown artists. The art looks better on the cans than on the bottles. I almost feel bad putting them in the recycling container.

The beer itself is definitely a winner. Cloudy pale yellow with a light head, and gorgeous aromas of white flowers, white grapefruit, orange rind, pine, white pepper, and lemon. The taste is crisp and clean, mostly white grapefruit and pine with nicely balanced hops.  I tend towards higher alcohol IPAs, but this session brew is a definite winner, especially for a hot summer day. It would also pair quite nicely with white fish in lemon sauce, or shrimp in a green curry sauce.

What a great start to my 2016 "Beer Advent Calendar".

Beer Advent Calendar - the 2016 Edition

Hi folks,

So what do you get the spouse who really doesn't need much of anything? Consumables, of course!

Last year I purchased a "Beer Advent Calendar" from Savvy Company and it was a hit with the one who drinks beer. Yes, it is EXACTLY what it sounds like - a collection of 24 beers, one for each day leading up to Christmas. Much more satisfying to a grown up than those chocolate calendars you can get for the kids. Sadly, this year Savvy didn't repeat the calendar so I was left to my own devices to put together one for the other half.

Conveniently for me, all 24 beers JUST fit into this tote from Thirtyone that I had lying around.

Be sure to stop by over the next 24 days as we reveal the beers were included in this year's calendar!