Monday, August 24, 2009

North Coast Pranqster

Made in a Belgian blonde ale style, this very well crafted beer has become my new standby blonde. Pouring with a murky and yeasty colour, this beer has a pleasant deep straw colour and a small but persistent head. The nose has apple, banana, tropical fruits and cream, while the palate is filled with tropical fruits and is rich and full with an opulent creamy texture. This is a flavourful blonde ale with more richness than is standard from Belgium, and some interesting herbal bitterness on the finish. A highly drinkable beer, the Pranqster is food friendly for simple French or Belgian inspired fare.

Very Good
$10 / 4 pack of 333ml bottles at BCLDB (more at private stores)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oud Beersel Oud Geuze

Lambic is a kind of belgian beer made in a style with which most people are likely to be unfamiliar. Sour and tart on the palate, and often with funky, even bready, flavours, lambics can be an acquired taste for beer drinkers. However, these days sour beers inspired by the traditional Belgian lambics are becoming all the rage in the US microbrewing scene and have precipitated a wave of impressive beers from the likes of Russian River, Lost Abbey, etc.

However, even with all the excellent sours being made in the US, it is nice to go back to the source and try a traditional blended unflavoured geuze lambic (made from aged and young lambic and no added fruit). Further, given BC's severe lack of microbrews and interesting beers, it is nice to see a properly made (i.e. sour) gueze lambic on the shelves in the province.

This particular lambic had a nose with bread, funk, green apple, dry lager yeast, lemon and spice. The palate is sour, but also balanced with funky earth, must, bread and a ton of yeast flavours (kind of like rising bread smell). While not for all, this is a beer that anyone with an adventurous palate should taste and it is certainly an excellent authentic version of the Belgian lambic. And, as an added bonus, it pairs brilliantly with stilton cheese.

$9/375ml at Viti or Brewery Creek

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shmaltz Brewing Coney Island Lager

With the recent spate of fall-like weather in Vancouver, a lager may be the last thing on your mind right now. For the beer geek, the lager has become emblematic of big corporate beer and its quest to dominate the realm of flavour with bland swill. Fortunately, both the weather monger and the corporate beer hater have something to appreciate in this micro-brew from New York. Shmaltz brewing, also producers of the HeBrew series, uses the Coney Island label to exclusively release lagers. Contrary to popular belief in the beer geek world, lagers are not de facto flavourless and boring. In fact, lagers constitute quite a large category of beers unto themselves, similarly to ales, and the style should not be written off quickly. Lagers are traditionally made in spring and cold-stored over the summer months and come in various styles including Helles, Bock, Marzen and Pilsner. Further, lager can range from dark and malty, to hoppy, to light and dry, the lattermost being the dominant style in the US macro-brewing market.

This particular lager is on the darker and maltier side of the scale, with a nose of sweet malts, fruit, bread, sugar, banana bread and candy apple. Interestingly, the palate is almost Belgian-like and has an incredibly full bodied texture and really highlights the bready elements of the beer. Despite its massiveness, I also enjoyed some slight floral notes on the palate and its very clean dry finish, which also happens to make it outstanding for pairing with fuller bodied spicy foods. I suggest trying this beer with some East Indian cuisine or a spicy sausage, and I hope that any beer afficionado is willing to give this beer a try in order to revitalize the unfairly demonized world of the lager.

Very Good+
$9 / 22oz at Brewery Creek

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Russian River Brew Pub

So after all the festivities of #WBC09 Graham, Sean and I decided to hit up Russian River Brewing before heading back to San Francisco. And, as the saying goes it takes a lot of good beer to make a good wine. If all beer were as good as Russian River, well we might never get to the wine. Here are two video reviews of two fantastic sour beers brewed right in Sonoma. Cheers!

P.S. Thanks to Sean of Vinifico for providing the video equipment and editing these videos.