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 »

Advertisements

Defined: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)

October 5, 2010

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 »


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 »


Did Someone Say Brunch? Grab a Blanch de Chambly Mimosa!

October 4, 2010

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 »


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 »


Tasting the Brooklyn Lager

September 30, 2010

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 »