October 4, 2010
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 »
October 1, 2010
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!
September 29, 2010
At the end of Toronto Beer Week last week the Canadian Brewing Awards were handed out to the top three beer styles in 30 Categories as well as the Brewery and Beer of the Year Awards. From BC, Central City Brewing took home the Best Brewery Award, and their Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine won Best Beer. BC and Quebec brought home the most Gold awards, with Ontario getting some recognition as well. The biggest shock for me came in the Cream Ale category where Sleeman’s Cream Ale beat out both the Muskoka Cream and Cameron’s Cream. I would actually like an explanation on this. For the full award listings see the post at Great Canadian Pubs and Beer by Troy Burtch.
September 28, 2010
Here is another amazing example of why I love Dogfish Head and its founder, Sam Calagione. Back in the early 2000’s at some beer festivals you may have seen Dogfish head pumping some of their IPAs through a vertical tube of fresh hops then poured directly into your glass. Most notably the 120 IBU (International Bitter Unit) 120 Minute IPA was being fed through what Sam named Randall, producing a wildly fresh, enamel eating, hoppy beer. This was a fun and unique experiment for Dogfish, and also a way for Sam to prove to the West Coast Brewers that the East Coast knows how to hop it up too.
Now though, Sam has introduced Randall the second, a much more refined and engineered version of the original makeshift Randall. This version installs onto a tap line, and has two chambers allowing Dogfish to filter beer though the ingredient of their choice in one, and the second to reduce foaming. Guess what they have been doing with it… Read the rest of this entry »
September 24, 2010
After being available to people outside of North America for almost 10 years now, Guinness will finally introduce the Foreign Extra Stout to the American market. I have never had the FES, but the reviews I’ve read, and rumors that I have heard build it up both as the best and worst Guinness there is. A FES is a bigger, more full bodied and richer stout than a typical dry stout, so this Guinness is 7.5% abv, appropriately. This leads me to believe that it is good. This version though is also carbonated in the bottle rather than nitrogenated as we are used to. It does appear to be full and creamy, but we will see I suppose.
Initial tasting notes reveal large roast on the nose, with a strong, bittersweet flavor. I thought Guinness could have been more descriptive, but I guess that is asking to much. Soon though, on October the 1st we can cross the boarder and find out for ourselves.
September 20, 2010
This past weekend in Denver Colorado the largest gathering of American beer and beer lovers enjoyed a flavor packed weekend of craft beer, great food, and good times. This year 3,523 beers were entered into the Great American Beer Festival brew competition, more than any other commercial beer competition in the world. Winners from the 79 beer categories were just announced over the weekend and Gold, Silver and Bronze awards were handed out. Pizza Port Brewing took an impressive 13 medals, and Firestone Walker to 6. For the full list of winners here is the PDF. Read more for some stats. Read the rest of this entry »
September 17, 2010
If I lived in or around Munich, I would be booking off the next 2 weeks to enjoy the 200th anniversary of the Munich Oktoberfest; the largest and most historic beer celebration festival on this planet! From September 18th to October the 4th tens of thousands of people will experience beer heaven in of of the most storied beer locations on earth. But everyone is getting in on the action; brewers all across the globe create Oktoberfest beers – but what is that?
Oktoberfest is more about celebration, friends, food and beer consumption rather than beer appreciation. Not that they don’t appreciate the beer, but it is definitely not a sipping affair. Oktoberfest beers are session beers, meaning that they are 3.5 to 5%, usually pale and lightly malty, with soft hop aromas. They are easy drinking, refreshing and consumable beers. Depending where you are they will be easy to find, but your best bet it you local brew pub, so enjoy!
September 16, 2010
In Oxfordshire UK, lies a classic British Brewery, one which we are lucky enough to enjoy distribution of several of their beers in Ontario and across North America. Many people will recognize them by the fiendish goblin on the bottle lable, or by their winter beer called Bah Humbug. Quirky, and effective. But there is more to the beer than just the label. The Wychwood Brewery produced high quality ales that are distinctly British in flavor, composition, and feeling.
This is a quality which I greatly appreciate right now when many beers from across the world seem to be migrating to the heavily hopped, or outrageously styled brews that were made popular by the American Craft Brewers. Classic British Ale is delicate, soothing, calm and delicious. Its biscuit and bready notes show you exactly what malted barley can do, and you end up with the perfect pint for the end of a hard day, or the beginning of a wild night. The Hobgoblin is no exception. Read the rest of this entry »
September 16, 2010
Now that the Fall is upon us and Halloween looms over our heads the pumpkin beers will start to flow. I have had everything from weak and pathetic pumpkin beers that should be ashamed to called them selves pumpkin, to amazingly lush ones that glow a fresh pumpkin orange with flavor and character. What I have never seen, and am now madly excited for is a Pumpkin Cider!
Woodchuck Hard Cider is produced in Vermont, and is still the most delicious cider I have ever had. The Private Reserve Pumpkin is relatively strong for a cider at 6.9% abv – it will be scarcely available towards the end of September and early October. I will be looking for it!
September 15, 2010
“Muskoka Harvest Ale is the pilgrim of out seasonal beer endeavor. Brewed using a selection of premium local ingredients, this ale has a rich malt backbone and is dry hopped which contributes to a subtle grassy character reminiscent of the harvest. This Harvest Ale marks the end of the growing season and the gathering of crops from the fields.”
This rather exciting, and beautiful offering from the Muskoka Cottage Brewery is a long anticipated fall release which will be at the LCBO in 750ml bottles, as well as on tap at select restaurants and pubs. I’m not sure yet of the price, but I am madly excited for this 2nd edition Harvest Ale.
September 15, 2010
The Three Floyds Brewery located in Munster Illinois, is recognized by RateBeer as one of the world’s top Breweries; largely for their beers like the Alpha King (IPA), Gumball Head (Wheat), Dreadnaught (2XIPA), and the infamous Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout. This is however causing a problem for the now worldly acclaimed brewer – they cannot keep up with demand. While this may not sound like such a problem, it is creating some serious distress among retailers, and disappointment with consumers.
Three Floyds remains true to their small town, craft beer roots by brewing small batch beers mostly by hand; this is probably one of the reasons why their products are so delicious. The problem is that the brewery has outstretched their abilities, and has essentially promised too many markets something that hey cannot deliver on. Read the rest of this entry »
September 15, 2010
I am very sorry to report this, but just this week an inside source confirmed with me that the LCBO recently discontinued the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA; in my humble opinion, probably the best IPA available (previously) at the LCBO. This source did say that he wasn’t 100% sure if this was actually the case, but the LCBO website does not lie. On the product site for the 60 Minute it plainly exclaims that it is Discontinued.
I am currently unaware of the reasoning behind this, and it may have been a Dogfish Head decision rather than an LCBO one. Regardless, it is gone, sadly. To substitute the fresh, crisp, hope-forward awesomeness that was the 60 Minute, I would reccomend the Southern Tier IPA or the Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion.
September 14, 2010
Ok, I hope by now that beer lovers in and around Toronto already know about Toronto Beer Week (TBW). If not, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the website, contain your excitement, and book off the week to drink beer! This is a week long beer celebration starting on Monday September the 20th, running till Sunday the 26th. Thats only 6 days away!
I was going to post a full list of all the events happening during this week around Toronto, but there must be 100 of them! Check out the TBW Events Page for a full listing of what events are taking place where throughout the week. This is a great chance to enjoy some of the best beer available in Ontario, meet some of your favorite brewers, and mingle with beer lovers, media, and professionals alike. This is going to be a grand week ‘o beer!
August 31, 2010
A couple weeks ago I enjoyed and reviewed the Devine Rebel; a BrewDog and Mikkeller collaboration Barleywine. This was a big, rich, and malty barleywine that really brought the house down for me. In 2008 when these two breweries created this masterpiece, unknowing to us they packed a bunch of it away in Mortlach Speyside Whisky Barrels for almost 2 years – and now they are bottling and selling them!
I love this kind of creativity and enthusiasm for experimentation. Brew it, and have fun with some of it. It’s a “lets just see what happens” kind of mentality. And why not!? Only 1000 bottles of this limited edition 12.5& Whisky Barrel Aged Barleywine will be sold, 500 of which are available online for about $18% Canadian equivalent. Not to bad considering the beer’s age and maturation place.
August 26, 2010
They are coming very soon to an LCBO near you – finally Canada is going to experience the Innis & Gunn Highland Cask. This 2010 Highland Cask is the 2nd that Innis & Gunn has brewed. In 2009 they made one for Sweden that I was lucky enough to try; that was aged in 18 year old Highland Whisky barrels. This, the 2010 edition brewed for the Canadian Market has been aged in 21 year old barrels from the Speyside region of Scotland. Innis would not say which distillery it was, and there are many. But to give you an idea, they include Aberlour, Belvenie, Cardhu, Glenfarclas, Glenrothes, Linkwood, Macallan, Strathisla, and more.
This Innis, like all special editions, comes in a signature box, this one an earthy green branded with “Highland Cask” on the front. It was aged in “extremely rare oak barrels” for 49 days. Innis & Gunn went to brewing a special beer for these special barrels, and watched it carefully as it matured in the oak until they felt it had reached its prime. This Highland Cask is brewed with pale and amber malts to create a smooth, creamy and biscuit like beer to best complement the light honey and floral notes of the oak. It finished at 7.1% abv. Read the rest of this entry »