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The American India Pale Ale, or American-Style India Pale Ale has become one of the most popular, widespread, and brewed beers in North America. The rich pale malt backbone found in the depths of an aromatically bitter and hop-crisp beer has enchanted people all across the continent. There is only one problem with this – there are probably close to 1,800 breweries in NA, and there are probably about 2,000 different Pale Ales! The Pale Ale craze is becoming a bit overwhelming; whether it is an IPA, Pale Ale, American version or a hybrid, there are just too many pale ales out there.
So what’s a beer lover to do!? Well, obviously taste them all and find your favorites. Because that may take to long, I’m going to start you off in the right direction with one of the most well rounded and best constructed American IPA’s on the planet. The Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Too many pales are either one sided, to aggressively hopped, not hopped enough, or are poorly built. The Two Hearted Ale is at the top of my list because it hits all the right notes in perfect harmony. It doesn’t get carried away with this or that, it is just plain good. Read the rest of this entry »
It always starts as a healthy passion. Something that you found to be intriguing, exciting, and perhaps delicious. The more you learn about it the more unique it becomes, and the more that it reveals itself, the more it sucks you in. Most likely its happened to you with something in your life; a sport, school subject, TV show, or a girl. Whatever it is, I’m sure you know what I mean. But then one day, you realize, that this passion is beginning to get out of control, and you are now totally obsessed.
It started for me with beer in about 2005. I thought nothing of it, but quickly my computer desk was being filled with beer bottles. There were bottles on top of it, on the shelves, in the book compartments, behind my monitors, and pretty much everywhere I could fit them. Much to the dismay of my girlfriend at the time, I would not get rid of these bottles. The 200 some odd bottles then has exploded into over 1,200 different bottles today. I am obsessed.
I’ve has countless bottles of beer from Brewery Ommegang in my life, and they always at very least excite me. There have been many memorable beers, but none quite as astounding as the Adoration, their special winter ale. Ommegang is brewing Belgian inspired ales in Cooperstown NY, and the Adoration is no exception – it is a 10% Belgian Dark Strong Ale that is packed with deep fruit and malt flavors and a rich crackling of spices. The beer just cries out for the winter.
It will be floating throughout the United States again from Late October to December, and may last on shelves even a bit longer than that. What I am most excited for is of course to drink it again, but also to put a few bottles in my cellar. Big, rich and spicy beers like this can benefit to amazingly with some time to mature. Bottle conditioning (a process by which existing yeast in the bottle naturally carbonates the beer) allows for a very real transformation to slowly take place as the beer ages – exactly like with fine wine. If you do see the Adoration on a shelf, I would by 2 to age for every 1 you enjoy.
Aroma: Hop aroma moderately-high to moderately-low, and can use any variety of hops although UK hops are most traditional. Medium to medium-high malt aroma, often with a low to moderately strong caramel component (although this character will be more subtle in paler versions). Medium-low to medium-high fruity esters. Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed. May have light, secondary notes of sulfur and/or alcohol in some examples (optional).
Appearance: Golden to deep copper. Good to brilliant clarity. Low to moderate white to off-white head. A low head is acceptable when carbonation is also low.
Flavor: Medium-high to medium bitterness with supporting malt flavors evident. Normally has a moderately low to somewhat strong caramelly malt sweetness. Hop flavor moderate to moderately high (any variety, although earthy, resiny, and/or floral UK hops are most traditional). Hop bitterness and flavor should be noticeable, but should not totally dominate malt flavors. May have low levels of secondary malt flavors (e.g., nutty, biscuity) adding complexity. Moderately-low to high fruity esters. Optionally may have low amounts of alcohol, and up to a moderate minerally/sulfury flavor. Medium-dry to dry finish (particularly if sulfate water is used). Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed. Read the rest of this entry »
Its coming, and its just around the corner… This winter as the Christmas beers begin to flood the LCBO again; we will be getting back the Innis & Gunn Connoisseur’s pack, and in this years pack is the strongest Innis & Gunn ever made – the Winter Beer. My good friends at Innis have been chatting about this beer for a long time now. In the summer I had heard that Dougal (the founder and BrewMaster) was working on a spiced beer, one that he was more excited about than any other beer he has made. This definitely got me excited – I already love the sweet, creamy and caramel oaky flavors of the Innis Original – the idea of a spicier and stronger version for the winter sounded perfect!
We should expect the Connoisseur’s Pack to be made available late October to November for the Christmas Release; probably the best overall beer release at the LCBO. I was fortunate enough to get the Connoisseur’s pack ahead of time thanks to my good friends at Innis & Gunn, and I have been saving the Winter Beer since – until now. The time finally came. I had enjoyed the Original and the Rum Cask that came in the pack, but have been waiting for the right moment to test the Winter Beer on my palate. It was a calm Sunday afternoon, football filled my living room, but my Innis & Gunn glass was empty. Time to fill it! Read the rest of this entry »
One of my all time favorite meals is brunch. It is such a delicious combination of foods from all courses coming together in perfect harmony. Everything from eggs and pancakes to bacon, roast beef, shrimp, pastas, desserts and more make it onto the table. Beyond that, there is usually a wide selection of juices, coffees, cocktails, beers, spirits, and usually mimosas; the classic brunch drink of orange juice and champagne.
I do love champagne, but honestly the classic mimosa leaves something to be desired. It always ends up a bit to sharp, and unless you are using very expensive sparkling wine, a bit to tart. Ah ha, beer to the rescue. Here is one of my most favorite beer cocktails that people are always shocked, and then astounded by; the Blanch de Chambly Mimosa! It is smoother, creamier, has a soft vanilla and warm spice character to it, and just compliments orange juice better than champagne can. Read on for the directions, and I dare you to try it! Read the rest of this entry »
For anyone who may have been wondering why my daily posts were down to 1 or 2 from the usual 5 to 6 a day last week, the reason is this gorgeous brew kettle you see here. All last week I worked on building and perfecting my brand new homebrew system, which features this 30 liter Brew Kettle from Blichmann Engineering. It took some time, but now the system is all up and running, and the first batch went through yesterday, a Pumpkin Pie Weizenbock.
Homebrewing seems to be the natural step forward to beer enlightenment for the avid beer geek, or beer blogger. I have been homebrewing in various capacities for just over a year now, but I now have a system where I will have more precise control than I ever have before! To say than I am excited is a gross understatement. Coming down the pipes next will be a Mint Pale Ale and a Banana Chocolate Chip Stout.
Every once in a while the LCBO brings in a beer that totally shocks me. And its not necessarily the beer itself that gets my attention, but the fact that the LCBO had the you-know-what to actually bring it in! Last year the LCBO proved their worth to me by bringing in the Ola Dubh 12 and 40 – while the 40 was grossly over priced at $18.95 for a 330ml bottle, I was still excited to have it here. As well, it is a rare and pricey beer, so you can’t completely blame them.
This year the LCBO has again shocked me, and more so beyond last year. Not only are we getting the 12 and the 40 back, but the reaming Vintages in the Ola Dubh line are coming! That means soon we will have access to the Ola Dubh 12, 16, 18, 30 and 40! This is not yet reflected on the LCBO’s system, but was confirmed to me by beer services employee at the Sumerhill location. Read the rest of this entry »
Aroma: Rich malty sweetness often containing caramel, toffee, nutty to deep toast, and/or licorice notes. Complex alcohol and ester profile of moderate strength, and reminiscent of plums, prunes, raisins, cherries or currants, occasionally with a vinous Port-like quality. Some darker malt character that is deep chocolate, coffee or molasses but never burnt. No hops. No sourness. Very smooth.
Appearance: Dark reddish copper to opaque dark brown (not black). Thick, persistent tan-colored head. Clear, although darker versions can be opaque.
Flavor: As with aroma, has a rich malty sweetness with a complex blend of deep malt, dried fruit esters, and alcohol. Has a prominent yet smooth schwarzbier-like roasted flavor that stops short of burnt. Mouth-filling and very smooth. Clean lager character; no diacetyl. Starts sweet but darker malt flavors quickly dominates and persists through finish. Read the rest of this entry »
The Muskoka Cottage Brewery, located in Bracebridge Ontario (pure cottage country) has a slogan that states “The taste of cottage country”. Not only is that their motto, but it is also the idea behind their newest seasonal beer, the Harvest Ale. This could actually be the first of its kind from Ontario; all the malts and hops used in this brew were grown here in Ontario. I love the idea. This is the second year that Muskoka has released the Harvest, and this version comes in a very handsome 750ml swing cap bottle.
It is now floating through LCBO locations and will be available while supplies last at select pubs and restaurants. Muskoka has designed a richly hoppy and bitter pale ale at 6.4%. Right now it is probably the biggest, and most bitter pale ale offering available from Ontario in LCBO locations. It offers up different flavors than that of the typical American Style Pale ale, which I expect Muskoka would like to say is uniquely Canadian. I’m not sure what Ontario’s hop farms are like, but I do hope that this inspired more brewers to create seasonal beers sourced locally – everyone benefits. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s no avoiding it anymore, the summer is definitely gone; as hard as I have been trying to hold onto it, its gone. But fall is a pretty beautiful season – the leaves change, the air is crisp, the enchantment of the holiday season nears, and, oh yes, the Pumpkin Ales come in! This year we are getting four pumpkin ales in for the Autumn Release at the LCBO.
Great Lakes’ Pimpkin Ale will be back in 650ml bottles; it is a pale ale based pumpkin ale with mellow spice and pumpkin flavors at 5%. The St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale is also back, this 5% 341ml bottle is packed with crisp spices and refreshingly sweet pumpkin notes. The Post Road Pumpkin by Brooklyn will join the ranks for the first time, offering a more malty 5% pumpkin ale. And finally, Southern Tier, who is getting more and more shelf space recently will bring the Pumpkin, an 8.8% imperial pumpkin ale. Go get it!
Aroma: Roasty aroma (often with a lightly burnt, black malt character) should be noticeable and may be moderately strong. Optionally may also show some additional malt character in support (grainy, bready, toffee-like, caramelly, chocolate, coffee, rich, and/or sweet). Hop aroma low to high (US or UK varieties). Some American versions may be dry-hopped. Fruity esters are moderate to none. Diacetyl low to none.
Appearance: Medium brown to very dark brown, often with ruby- or garnet-like highlights. Can approach black in color. Clarity may be difficult to discern in such a dark beer, but when not opaque will be clear (particularly when held up to the light). Full, tan-colored head with moderately good head retention.
Flavor: Moderately strong malt flavor usually features a lightly burnt, black malt character (and sometimes chocolate and/or coffee flavors) with a bit of roasty dryness in the finish. Read the rest of this entry »
In the 1800’s Brooklyn New York was a haven for brewing in America, sadly though, prohibition and time destroyed a once vibrant community. We are lucky today though because the Brooklyn Brewery has brought revitalization to the heart of New York by brewing new and innovative beers, and exception traditional beers which pay homage to their predecessors.
The Brooklyn Brewery’s flagship beer is the Brooklyn Lager, an award winning Vienna Style lager brewed traditionally as would have been done in 1890. It is available at almost all LCBO locations all year round, and is distributed all across the United States and is beginning to float across the globe.
This is all for very good reason too; Brooklyn has brought back to us a fantastic example of the Vienna Lager, a purely refreshing, versatile and meaty beer which fits many situations all too perfectly. Read the rest of this entry »
Aroma: Light, sweet malt aroma with toffee, nutty and/or caramel notes. A light but appealing fresh hop aroma (UK varieties) may also be noticed. A light fruity ester aroma may be evident in these beers, but should not dominate. Very low to no diacetyl.
Appearance: Dark amber to reddish-brown color. Clear. Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.
Flavor: Gentle to moderate malt sweetness, with a nutty, lightly caramelly character and a medium-dry to dry finish. Malt may also have a toasted, biscuity, or toffee-like character. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Malt-hop balance is nearly even, with hop flavor low to none (UK varieties). Some fruity esters can be present; low diacetyl (especially butterscotch) is optional but acceptable. Read the rest of this entry »