I Look Forward to the Winter for the Ommegang Adoration

October 5, 2010

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.


Tasting the Innis & Gunn Winter Beer, 2010

October 4, 2010

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 »


The Ola Dubh Will Return to The LCBO. All Of Them!

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 »


Tasting the Muskoka Cottage Brewery Harvest Ale 2010

October 1, 2010

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 »


The Pumpkin Beers Are Coming

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!


Guinness Foreign Extra Stout Will Hit U.S. Shelves

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.


BrewDog Unveils AB: 03

September 17, 2010

BrewDog’s third installation in the Abstrakt series, AB: 03, just went live this morning. AB:01 was a Vanilla bean infused Belgian Quadrupel at 10.2%, AB:02 was a Tripple Dry Hopped Imperial Red Ale at 18%, now AB:03 is an Imperial Ale Aged for more than 2 years in Whisky casks with raspberries and strawberries at 10.5%. Just 3192, 375ml bottles of AB: 03 were made and are selling for 9.99 British pounds.

I did expect that AB:02 and 03 would sell out immediately, as AB:01 did, however they re still selling AB:02 on their website. Interesting. It may be a case of over flooding the market with similar products; what with Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Sink the Bismark, and The End of History, BrewDog has in the past year brought an onslaught of high alcohol, high cost, exclusive beers to the market. Maybe it is time that they focus on their core business. But I will never discourage their enthusiasm and sense of experimentation. Cheers!


Pumpkin Ale? Pumpkin Cider!

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!


Muskoka’s Harvest Ale 2010 is Almost Here

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.


Stone’s Vertical Epic 10’10’10 is Announced

September 14, 2010

The Stone Brewing Co. does many things that makes me wish I lived in Escondido California, where the brewery is located. If its not just for their beers, its the festivals, the brew pub, the events, specialty and collaboration beers, and the sheer passion and enthusiasm for beer that the whole teem exudes. One of my favorite projects that they have which has been running since 2002 is the Vertical Epic Ale Series. Each year starting on 02’02’02 (ie. February 2nd, 2002) Stone releases a new beer intended to be aged until 12’12’12 (December 12, 2010), at which time they should be enjoyed ranging from a fresh beer to a 10 year old bottle. Read the rest of this entry »


Real Beer, with Stephen Rich: THE SHOW!

August 20, 2010

My love and passion for real beer… In video form.! Read the rest of this entry »


Looking Forward to What Innis & Gunn has in Store for Us

August 20, 2010

Since 2006 Innis & Gunn has brought us special edition beers every holiday season. And now it seems like Canada’s enthusiasm for this Scottish Oak Aged Beer is paying off! Now we get both a special edition beer that comes in individually sealed boxes, as well a a connoisseurs pack with three beers and an Innis & Gunn stemmed beer glass.

This year in the connoisseurs pack you will get the Original, the Rum Cask is back, and the new Winter Beer – which is 8.5%, and tremendously exciting! Innis & Gunn insiders have said to me that they have never seen Dougal (the founder) more excited about a beer. I am madly excited to try this special winter beer. I will post new reviews of each of these beers in the coming weeks, as well as full descriptions of them. Read the rest of this entry »


LCBO’s Beer Garden Swings Into Action

August 18, 2010

Right now the LCBO is gearing up for their largest beer selection of the year. The summer selection is still available, and very soon the Autumn and Halloween releases will swell into store for over excited beer nerds like me to gobble up everything we can. This year’s seasonal offerings are not yet reflected on the LBCO’s site, but their interactive beer garden is.

The Beer Garden allows you to visually inspect just about every beer that you can find at the LCBO, as well as build a shopping cart of your favorite beers and it will tell you the closest locations to you that have them all. You can also take a beer personality quiz to see what beer est suits you (this is total BS, but fine), and the Beer Selector allows your to narrow your choices by type, body, country and brand.


Rogue Has a Brewery and a Distillery, What’s That Mean? Rogue John John Hazelnut Brown Nectar

August 17, 2010

The Rogue Brewery in Newport Oregon is producing a dizzying amount of beer. But they are also creating 7 different spirits like rum, whisky and gin! So what do you get when you add the Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar to to their Spiced Rum Barrels? The Rogue John John Hazelnut Brown Nectar.

It was so aptly named because this beer is a collaborative effort between the Rogue BrewMaster John Maier and their Master Distiller, John Couchot. The Hazelnut Brown was aged in  Rogues Spiced Rum barrels for 6 months and should see shelves any day now. I can’t wait to try this.


Tasting the Schneider Weisse Hopfen Weisse

August 11, 2010

Garret Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery, and Hans-Peter Drexler of the Schneider Weisse Brewery could be two of the most infamous brewmasters on this planet. They could also be two of the best. Each of their brewery’s exemplify what craft beer is all about. Their products reek of tradition, passion and expertise. Honestly, I love what these guys do. So how can you improve on their beers? Put these two geniuses in the same room and let them collaborate a beer taking traditional brewing styles from both countries (the US and Germany).

So what does this mean? Taking the love of hops from the United States and combining that with the weissbier prowess of Germany. Awesome. The concept that came to fruition was that together they would brew the same beer, but at both breweries – thus releasing two different versions, one in a classic 750ml Brooklyn Bottle from the Brooklyn Brewery, and the other, this, in a 500ml classic Schneider Weisse bottle. This is really the stuff that dreams are made of. Or, mine at least.  Read the rest of this entry »