Tasting the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

October 5, 2010

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 »

Tasting the BrewDog & Stone Bashah

September 23, 2010

The Bashah is a collaboration brew between two of the worlds most influential breweries, the Stone Brewing Co. in California, and BrewDog from Scotland. It barely even matters what the beer in the bottle is, if you put these two names on it I’ll buy it out of sheer faith in its quality and predictably fantastic flavor. Each of these breweries have embarked on an incredible beer journey on their own, each creating unique and no-holds-barred beers in their own style. Put them together then, and what do you get? A Black Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale.

Firstly, this is a Double IPA, so it should be robustly hoppy with fresh, earthy and citrus bitter flavors that pack a decent punch. It should be both higher in alcohol and in bitterness (IBUs). Next, it is a Belgian Style Double IPA. This could mean a few things, but most typically it means that it was fermented with a Belgian yeast strain rather then an Californian one, thus giving it bigger body, a fruiter, more malty character, and a more lively carbonation. And Finally, it is black. This indicates the color, and therefore usage of dark, chocolate, or roasted malts in the brew; those flavors should come through subtly in the beer finally creating a unique and exciting beer. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Birrifico Le Baladin Xyauyu; Reserva Teo Musso

September 21, 2010

There is a great deal of intrigue and excitement floating around this beer. First of all its shape, unique label dated 2005, unpronounceable name,  and its corrugated cardboard box are totally unfamiliar to me. There is no cap, but rather a cork. It is 13% abv. And it was also $40 for the small, but beautiful bottle. What is this Italian work of art? It is exactly that, and Italian work of art. Birrifico Baladin, an Italian Craft Brewery lead by Teo Musso had originally thought of creating an oxidized beer to resemble a Madeira in 1996, but finally made the dream come true in 2003.

This is one of my favorite types of beer, and I don’t mean the beer style. But rather this beer can show the world how wide and far the boundaries of beer can really stretch. There is no limit to your creative ability, just your imagination. Musso Named this beer Xyauyu after his daughter’s imaginary friend; he also describes the beer a an “Italian-style barlywine.” I would put it squarely in that category where it should remain the front runner and definition of the style. This beer is remarkable. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Alpine Beer Company’s Nelson

September 17, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I love San Diego. Not just for Ron Burgundy, but for its amazing breweries! There is a slew of big name craft brewers whose beers are flooding the U.S. market right now, but recently I got the chance to enjoy a smaller, more local brewery’s beer – the brewery is Alpine Beer Company – and the beer was Nelson. Yes, Nelson is a man, and a beer. A Rye India Pale Ale to be precise.

The name is representative of the hop variety primarily used in this brew; from New Zealand comes a citrusy and spicy hop called Nelson Sauvin. It is used in both the brewing and dry hopping for this beer, as well rye malt is used to add a smooth, uniquely malty character to the beer. I really had no clue what to expect; I had never heard of Alpine, nor was there much detail of the beer on the bottle. But I knew that this was a west coast IPA at 7% abv with 60 IBUs. How bad can it possibly be? Or better yet, how good could this be? Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Duvel

September 8, 2010

Duvel (pronounced Doo-vle) is a beers which is synonymous among beer aficionados. It is a reference point for brewers and a staple for beer drinkers. I’m very thankful that it is always available at the LCBO because about 8 or 9 times a year I develop a thirst that only the Duvel can quench – and it does quench oh so beautifully.

Literally though, without exaggeration, the Duvel has become the summit for Belgian Pale Ales and is mimicked all across the globe; especially in the United States where craft brewing has taken on new excitement and passion, breweries are creating beers witch will in many ways reflect the characteristics of a Duvel. Its golden straw color, majestic and massive pillow soft head, globally defined chalice, and irresistible flavor had been perfected for over 50 years from 1871 to 1923, and since then has remained unmodified.

It is a unique ale which takes 90 days to craft, and only one second to enjoy on so many levels. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

August 24, 2010

The St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout by McAuslan Brewing is proof that beer does not have to be the stereotyped fizzy yellow drink that too many people assume that it is. This is an Oatmeal Stout. To some this may seem very appealing, and to others, not. This is  richly black beer with flavors of cocoa, espresso, roast and rich malt. But is is smooth, creamy, and surprisingly refreshing.

In 1994 at the World Beer Championship this Oatmeal Stout received the second highest rating of over 200 beers at the festival, it was awarded a platinum medal, and has been brewed with passion and expertise ever since. Today is has spread across all of Canada, and is making its way into the United States. It is at every well stocked LCBO in 6 packs of 341ml bottles, and is also available relatively widely on draught – and that is where this beer really shines. Or, maybe not shines, but you get the idea Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Schneider Weisse Aventinus

August 23, 2010

When I was first beginning to plunge into the world of real beer the Schneider Weisse Aventinus was among the first beers that proved to me that this would be a worthwhile adventure. George Schneider first brewed the Aventinus in 1907 in Germany as a wheat-doppelbock, and since then, it has achieved the highest accolades amongst its strong beer brethren.

First, let’s take a moment to define this unique style of beer. A wheat beer is typically brewed with a large proportion of wheat to malted barley. In the German case, as we are discussing, they are always top-fermented, and hence are always ales. Wheat beers generally are very effervescent, refreshing, lively, and show flavors of clove, spice, vanilla, banana, and light fruit. A doppelbock is a classic German Starkbier (“strong beer”). A doppelbock is a lager (bottom-fermented) brewed with a large amount of rich, and usually dark malted barley. They emerged in the late eighteenth century as a variation on the old monastic strong beer brewed by monks to help them get through theLenten season. Doppelbocks are generally very rich in malt sweetness, dark fruit, chocolate, and are rarely if ever bitter. Read the rest of this entry »