Saturday, June 27, 2009

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Stout - isn't it summer? You wouldn't know that given the last week of weather here in Vancouver. Hence, I pulled out and revisited an old favourite from California brewer North Coast (maker of other tasty beers such as Brother Thelonious).

Pouring with an awesome thick head, the nose on this was classic toasty caramel and heavy roast coffee. The palate expands on this and is very deep and intense: fresh coffee grounds, ash and cigar punctuate the viscous texture. Each flavour also manages to keep in balance with the others and the alcohol (at 9% abv) is not overly noticeable - a feature that will smooth even more with the proper aging. In the end, this is a very well made Russian Imperial Stout and a perfect standby for cold summer evenings.

Very Good+
$4/333ml at Brewery Creek, Viti, Liberty

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Caracole Troublette

Summer often demands wheat beer, but wheat beer in Canada can also often be disappointing or overly simple. I got this Belgian wheat ale on recommendation, and while not spectacular, it steps up to the plate as a good summer standard.

With a mellow and simple nose and palate this Belgian white ale had pineapple, orange, fennel, and soda pop. Light and smooth, this goes down easy at 5.5% abv. Maybe lacking a little depth and freshness (not sure how old this bottle is), I still recommend it for a basic summer beer that far surpasses the likes of BC brewed wheat ales.

Very Good
$4.50/333ml at Brewery Creek

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brooklyn Brewing Local 1

Brooklyn is one of those breweries that has helped spread the word about micro brewed beer. They have pretty good market penetration with their basic beers, which are all above average for the style. However, it is their specialty beers that really show their prowess.

The Local 1 is made in a Belgian Strong Blond Ale style and pours with a huge head. Proper carbonation can be hard to come by, but this is balanced just right and the bubbles add freshness to a pretty high alcohol brew. The nose has lots of Belgian Trippel notes - fruity esters, some rootbeer and cream. The palate has plenty of baking spice, licorice and candy floss. This is smooth and robust summer drinking, even at around 9% alcohol.

Very Good+
$15 / 750ml at Brewery Creek

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dogfish Head India Brown Ale

Dogfish Head are surprisingly consistent in quality across their huge selection of microbrewed beer. The India Brown Ale is somewhat of a hybrid between a creamy English style ale and a malty strong ale. Brewed with brown sugar, this has a significant texture that is smooth and viscous.

On the palate, the caramel and brown sugar flavours from the malts develop into a smoky and slightly bitter herbal finish. This is quite a robust beer at 7.2% ABV, but is balanced enough to go with many foods. I could see this with a pot pie or some sort of stew. And, a few days after drinking this I find myself repeatedly craving more. Always a good sign.

Very Good+
$5/375ml at Brewery Creek

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dogfish Head Red & White

This was an old bottle I had been storing for about a year: spoils from the Seattle International Beer Festival. Without comparison to a non-aged version it is hard to say what the effect was, but I can attest that this was very balanced for such high alcohol, which I find a common occurrence when you age such beers for about a year.

The spicy nose gave way to malted spice, bread, cake, orange peel, caramel sauce and maybe correander on the palate. Complex and well balanced, this went down super easily on a hot summer day. This was perhaps due to the distinct juicyness which suggested freshly pressed cherries and strawberries - a factor likely the result of the added pinot noir juice. The finish is refined and malty without being too sweet. Excellent stuff. 10% ABV.

Very Good+
Around $15-20 USD I think.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Deschutes Mirror Mirror 2009

Here we have a highly anticipated beer from Deschutes (of Bend, Oregon) in the same series as The Abyss, an extremely well respected barrel aged Imperial Stout. This, on the other hand, is a barrel aged barley wine - a suped up version of the Mirror Pond ale.

There is almost a Belgian element to the nose with solid fruit esters, candy and cherry. Upon first tasting this I realized that Deschutes' recommendation to age the beer for at least one year was warranted - while carbonated it was clear the yeast had yet to fully activate. But, unlike the Angel's Share, I have no doubt that this will have perfect carbonation in a year.

The palate here is really fantastic with raisins, caramel, wood, white chocolate and some grain flavours. This is very smooth and balanced and has a wonderful creamy texture. Even with all its flavour, this does not go over the top nor is it boozy. This puts it well ahead of the Angel's Share, and I think it will end up being a better beer.

Excellent to Excellent+ (esp. with age)