Category: Beer Reviews


Anchor Bock Beer

Anchor Bock Beer is a 5.5% ABV Dunkler Bock by style brewed at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, California. A Dunkler Bock is a typically copper to dark brown lager with nutty and toasted flavors and typically no hop taste or aroma.

Pouring out a dark somewhat opaque brown with bright amber highlights in the body and a thick foamy beige head. The foam disperses quickly as steady carbonation cascades upwards in the body and rests as a thin bubbly cap. The nose has sweet caramel and toasty malts with nutty aromas. There is no hop present in the aroma, but I do notice light floral and yeast based fruit notes. An overall sweet and light aroma.

The first sip I took got mostly toasted malts, light chocolate and a hint of underlying sweetness. Not too much going on mid palate, but the finish has a caramel richness and a light floral yeast. Like in the aroma, I get no hop presence in the taste.The body is slick and has the perfect feeling of a German beer.

This is beer is a bit on the subtle side overall, but it is a well balanced session beer with big toasty malts and sweet caramel notes. Overall a good dark session beer.

Grade: B+

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Half Pints Brewing Co. located in Winnipeg, Manitoba is a fantastic microbrewery best known for its Humulus Ludicrous Imperial IPA and Burleywine. Half Pints also has a fantastic range of session beers including Bulldog Amber, Sweet Nikki Brown, Stir Stick Stout and Little Scrapper IPA. Little Scrapper IPA is of particular note as Half Pints based the Cascadian Dark Ale Black Galaxy on Little Scrapper. Black Galaxy is a 6% ABV Cascadian Dark Ale (aka Black IPA) brewed with Australian Galaxy hops. Galaxy hops are of particular note for their high alpha acid content, big pine and grapefruit notes as well as passionfruit flavors.

Pouring out a purely opaque, dark as night black with a thick inch of foamy tan head and sticky lacing blotches. I can see a few really small carbonation bubbles rising to the surface as the head thins out to a thin cap of a dark frothy beige. The nose is fruity at first glance with sweet resins, grapefruit, floral hops, citrus zest and a subtle pine and earthy note. A deeper sniff and I get a dark roasted malt with a torrefaction coffee note, big pine needle notes and a hint of dark chocolate. Putting the glass down I get a big French espresso whiff off the top on the head. Smells utterly delicious with a nice blend of roasted notes and resinous hop aromas.

Sipping slowly, the middle has a sweet malt with chocolate milk and americano being evident with a hint of licorice. The roast and the hops take over and bring a not overly strong bitterness, but the hop carries on forever in the aftertaste. Mildly dry on the finish with a big roast and tangy grapefruit flavours playing some sort of complex harmony together. The body is a bit thin, but this is a remarkable and truly exceptional beer.  Later on I get a tangy and pine filled palate that lingers on for what seems like eternity. A really complex flavor profile with the big roasted malt backbone and the floral, fruity, piney and astringent hops. The body and mouth feel seem rather thin, but this is a smooth and slightly creamy beer. Overall, this is  a simply spectacular beer. I hope there’s more than just a ‘Half Pint’ to go around.

Grade: A+

Next Review: Gulden Draak

Paddock Wood Maibock

A Maibock is a German spring bock that is brewed as a Helles lagers brewed to Bock strength. Goats are typically found on the labels of Bock beers because “ein bock” in German translates to Billy Goat. Paddock Wood in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has brewed this Maibock to 7.3% ABV.

This Maibock pour out a brilliant and bright dark amber with a few big bubbles rising upwards through the body. A thick, foamy and short lived yellow head sits atop the body. By all appearances, this looks to be a rather malty Maibock, which are typically in the light golden range of color. The nose is toasty and mildly sweet with big bready and toffee notes in the malty backbone. A subtle floral hop is barely noticable in the aroma, but lends a bit of citrus zest to the nose. Warm and strong alcohol is noticable in the aroma as well.

Sweet and malted well in the middle with some caramel and grainy backbone. Light floral and citrus notes at the finish with a mild atringency and dry prolonged aftertaste. Warm and hearty, this beer is quite rich and is a good beer for a rainy day. Well balanced with a big malt and a light hop, but a nice German authenticity.

Grade: B

Next Review: Alley Kat Sherbrooke KGB Russian Imperial Stout

Dieu du Ciel! (french translation: Oh my God!) is one of Canada’s most prestigious craft breweries. Located in Montreal and St. Jerome, Quebec, Dieu du Ciel! produces many great beers including Canada’s two best beers Aphrodisiaque and Peche Mortel (according to ratebeer.com and beeradvocate.com) Blanche Neige (french translation: Snow White) is a Belgian Strong Ale by style but described by Dieu du Ciel! as a Double Wit brewed with coriander, curaçao, cinnamon and clove. At 8.3% ABV, Blanche Neige is certainly higher in alcohol than the average Belgian Wit.

Pouring out a bright and brazen light amber with orange hues along the glass, Blanche Neige looks simply spectacular in the glass. A couple of finger of light beige head dies down slowly to a finger of dense foam. I can’t see any carbonation at all in the body. The nose has big spiced and wheaty notes with aromas of clove, coriander and cinnamon and floral yeast esters. A lingering allspice and cinnamon waft out of the glass. The middle is sweet and malted well with big wheat and toasty caramel notes accompanying the spices as they intrude into the finish. A bit overwhelming spiced taste mid palate through to the finish, but a very tasty brew regardless. Warm and pungent alcohol on the finish dulls the spices a little, but they linger on in the aftertaste. Medium bodied and slick in the mouth with a nice richness in the taste.

Overall, an unbalanced beer with the spices tipping the scale on the malts and the non existant hops. A tad too sweet in the middle with a big alcohol finish. This is a really unique brew and one that I will definately revisit.

Grade: A-

Next Review: Paddock Wood Maibock

My recent reviews have been on a few International craft beers, so I thought I would finally get back to basics and tackle a Canadian session brew. Anarchist Amber Ale from Cannery Brewing is a 5.5% ABV amber ale by style brewed in Penticton, BC.

Pour out a bright coppery amber with dark brown notes in the body and a thin cap of dispersed yellow head. The nose has a mild toasty and caramel malt accentuated aroma with a hint of floral hop notes as well as an overall mild sweetness. The taste is nutty and toasty with boring cereal malts and a few floral and grass notes. Mild citrus and bitter hop presence on the finish, but no astringency or dryness on the finish. A bit watery and thin in the mouthfeel, but a well balanced beer throughtout. Overall, a solid session brew with a nice balanced taste.

Grade:B-

Next Review: Dieu du Ciel! Blanche Neige

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Ommegang Witte

Brewery Ommegang is an American brewery located in Cooperstown, New York that specializes in Belgian style brewing. As a matter of fact, Ommegang is owned by Duvel Moortgat, one of the largest and most well known Belgian brewery’s. At 5.1% alcohol by volume and with the reputation of bigh alcohol Belgian beers, I can only speculate that this must be one of their lowest ABV brews. The Witbier or Belgian White is a typically lightly colored, cloudy and spiced with ingrediants such as cloves, coriander and orangle peel.

Pouring out a bright and cloudy golden yellow with a thick and foamy pure white head, Ommegang Witte looks absolutely delicious. Hazy and cloudy in the body, I can barely make out a few tiny bubbles rising to the surface.  The nose is wheaty and yeast prominent with big spiced notes. Nuances of lemon and citrus fruits, ester based yeast notes, floral and grassy notes. An overall beautiful and well composed aroma.

The first sip is a tap tangy and sweet in the middle with a full wheaty malt and light spiced notes. Not an overwhelming brew, but nice lemon and spice notes carry on into the aftertaste. The finish is a bit long and tart with light astringency and bitterness. As I sip on this one, a light barnyard funk present noticable and carries on until I finish this beer. The tart lemon and beautifully composed spice mixture is the best quality of this beer. Overall, I am pretty impressed by this wit; its well balanced, the lovely tart finish and lemony taste are beautiful, and is finish is crisp and refreshing.

Grade: B+

Next Review: Cannery Brewing Anarchist Amber Ale

Wild Rose Foothillz Pilz

Wild Rose Brewery recently switched from pot stopper seasonals to the more popular format 650mL bombers. The second seasonal beer in the new bottles, Foothillz Pilz is a Czech style pilsner brewed to 5.2% alcohol by volume.

Foothillz Pilz pours out a bright and crisp golden yellow in the body with a thick and foamy pure white head. Tons of sticky and foamy head clings aroud the entire glass. Fizzy and sparkling carbonation cascades upwards throughout the body. For a pilsner, this is a simply beautiful looking brew. The nose has a crisp and grainy malt aroma with big grassy and light citric notes. I also get a surprising lemon aroma as well as light floral aromas and caramel malt sweetness.

My first sip has a delicious caramel and grainy malt backbone with light caramel sweetness. A bit of a grassy and florally hop taste in the middle gives the tell-tale signs of Saaz hops. Notes of lemon, lemon rind and a few subtle spicy notes. Not too much of a citrus bite from the hops, but a delicious hop flavor on the finish. Light astringency and a dry, surprisingly bitter finish. The hop flavors and citric bitterness prolong into the aftertaste. In general, this is a really delicious session Pilsner. Well balanced, crisp, clean and well hopped for the style. Overall, a really nice session ale.

Grade: B+

Next Review: Ommegang Witte

Ris a la M’ale…what is that. This beers namesake comes from a traditional Danish dessert served at Christmas. Ris a la M’ande is a rice pudding with cream and cherry sauce invented during the Second World War as a filling but cheap dessert. As such this beer is made with the main ingrediants of Ris a la M’ande; rice, lactose in place of cream and cherries. At 8% ABV, Ris a la M’ale is a stronger in alcohol content than the average fruit beer. Mikkeller is well known for making (or rather contracting) unusual beers, so lets take a look at this one.

Ris a la M’ale has a bright orange and ruby red highlighted amber body. A massive pinkish colored head rests atop the lightly carbonated body. The appearance of Ris a la M’ale on the whole has a pinkish or reddish hue. The nose has a sweet brown sugar and mollasses note throughout as well as light toasty and grainy notes.  Rich and sweet nose overall with candied sugar notes as well as a light hop presence and tart cherry notes. A really unusual beer so far, but I’ll wait to taste it until I pass judgement.

The rich and sweet molasses and brown sugary notes are the most evident in my first sip. Light astringency and tartness on the finish. Ris a la M’ale has the smooth and creamy texture of a cream ale. The cherries aren’t present in the palate at all, but after a few more sips I began to notice a light tartness and mild sweet fruit notes. Swirling this beer, I get some good retention and a few sticky lacing rings on the glass. This isn’t a very complex beer, but it is a well balanced and tasty combination of interesting flavors. About ready to finish this one, I got a light sour and tart flavor on the finish. Regardless of my confusion with the last few sips, this was a good beer overall.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Grade: B

Next Review: Wild Rose Foothillz Pilz

After a month away from writing (midterms suck big time), I thought I would post about Alley Kat Brewing’s newest Big Bottle. The Bitter Truth ESB is an English style session brewed with British Maris Otter malts. At 4.9% ABV, The Bitter Truth is actually a bit boozy for this style. Before I go ahead and dig into this one, I must mention that  I absolutely love the name of this beer.

Pouring out a bright, sparkly copper and highlighted with redy amber notes.  A thick, dense finger of yellowish head dies slowly leaving alot of big bubbles and a few rings of sticky lacing on the glass. Some light carbonation is present in the body. The nose is sweet and mildly malted with notes of caramel, toffee, grass, floral hops and some light citrus fruit notes. A lovely mild nose with a prominent hop aroma.

My first sip has nice caramel and bready notes in the middle with some light sweetness. The finish has an interesting hop affect; not much citrus, grass clippings, floral, pine and a mild but lingering astringency. The Bitter Truth good clean taste throughout with a really solid balance between the Maris Otter malt backbone and the prominent hop throughout. Overall, this is as good an ESB as many of the common British breweries produce.

Overall, The Bitter Truth is simply a really solid and well executed session Bitter. Kudos  Alley Kat.
Grade:B+

Next Review: Mikkeller Ris A La M’Ale

Howe Sound Inn and Brewery (http://www.howesound.com/home.aspx) is located in Squamish, British Columbia. Located on  its    namesake Howe Sound an hour’s drive north of Vancouver. Established in 1996, Howe Sound Brewing is one of British Columbia’s most well known craft breweries. Their signature 1L pot-stopper bottles are very unique and also recognizable in stores with hundreds upon hundreds of craft beers.

Howe Sound’s Winter seasonal, Pothole Filler, is a “Russian” Imperial Stout by style with 9% alcohol by volume. Pothole Filler is brewed with roasted barley, black malt, flatted barley as well as Warrior, Green Bullet and Willamette hops. The addition of these hops give Pothole Filler an impressive 65 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units).

Pouring this brew into my snifter, I admire the nearly pure black body with a foamy finger of tan head. Light brown tints along the edges of the glass. The head dies rather quickly leaving a thin tan coloured head and a few thin lacing rings. A whiff of intense roasted malts and alcohol wafts off the top of the glass after the pour. Notes of chocolate, roasted espresso, toffee, a hint of licorice and the warmth of alcohol are all present. The nose is a bit too sweet overall, but the roast and the hint of licorice make up for that shortfall. My first sip is sweet in the middle with a bit of a coffee note and a dry, astringent roast concluding with a mild alcohol burn. The notes of coffee and licorice are present with a bit of a lactic chocolate sweetness in the middle. Roasted malts encroach upon these notes and leave a dry, alcohol present finish. In general, the hops are not tasted in this brew, but rather add a modest hop bitterness on the finish.

Overall, Pothole Filler has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel with a bit of soft carbonation. While not the best Imperial Stout, Howe Sound did not disappoint with this offering. Pothole Filler could have had a more intense roast and giving this brew a bit more of the licorice I noted would be truly delactable. Regardless, this is a fantastic Imperial Stout.

Grade: A-