Sunday, 30 March 2014

Hoparazzi India Pale Lager

Hoparazzi India Pale Lager is brewed by the Parallel 49 Brewing Company in Vancouver, British Columbia. I had a couple of bottles as part of a variety six-pack (stay tuned for the other two varieties). The 341mL bottle features a camera-wielding dude in a hop-patterned shirt. It contains 5.5% alcohol. It's a modestly hazy brew, slightly reddish gold in colour, and topped with a thick off-white head.

Hoparrazi has a pretty fair imitation of the malty caramel and bitter hops aroma of an I.P.A. The underlying pale lager seems to be a hop platform--it's crisp, but doesn't contribute much to the flavour. The bulk of the flavour is focused on delivering a bitter, resinous hp charge. The beer starts sweet, but veers bitter-ward quickly.

I was pretty skeptical at the outset, but this brew proved to be an interesting and enjoyable concoction. It's not something that I'd reach for regularly, but a cool once-in-a-while bottle. If I were going to hop up a lager, I'd probably try to invoke citrus notes. Parallel 49 opted for a more resin-based hop, a choice that yielded respectable results. I'd love to know what the IBU count is for this stuff.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 28 March 2014

1516 Bavarian Lager

Vernon, British Columbia is home to the Okanogan Spring Brewey, makers of 1516 Bavarian Lager. 1516 is brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, the famed Reinheitsgebot. It contains 5% alcohol and comes in 341mL bottles. It's a clear and amply carbonated brew. It has a bright golden hue and comes topped with a short-lived white head.

1516's malty, cereal aroma is quite crisp. A refreshing lager, it has a mouthfeel that is thin and fizzy. On the front end, grass and grain rule the day. It has a nice, slightly spicy hop finish. I'd like a bit more flavour from a craft lager--something to set it apart in the saturated pale lager market.

Crisp and refreshing, like a pale lager should be. Though the flavour isn't much to write home about, it's better than serviceable. You know what you're getting when you crack open a 1516.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cat Lady IPA

Today is my lovely wife's 30th birthday. Since she's a cat enthusiast, bordering on obsessive, I figured that Cat Lady IPA would be an appropriate choice.

Cat Lady IPA comes from Toronto, Ontario's Bellwoods Brewery and contains 7.3% alcohol. I enjoyed a 500mL bottle of this slightly hazy, happy golden brew. It pours with a shock off white head. According to the sticker on the bottle, this stuff was brewed on November 5, 2013. I drank it on November 10th.  Extremely fresh beer is just one of the many reasons that I love having a quality brewery in the neighbourhood.

The aroma is sweetish, with a slightly tart citrus vibe. The flavour has considerable grapefruit bite, as well as a dab of satsuma. The finish is fairly bitter, but reasonably approachable for an India pale ale. Similarly, it's very mellow for a craft-brewed I.P.A. though it remains amply flavourful. The booze it quite well hidden except for a dose of warmth at the close.

This is yet another strong offering from one of the bright lights of the Ontario brewing scene. My only complaint is that there isn't much going on in the front end.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Alexander Keith's Hop Series-Hallertauer Hop Ale

My second foray into the Alexander Keith's Hop Series was their Hallertauer Hop Ale. This tasty brew, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the Keith's Brewery. It clocks in at 5.4% alcohol and is sold in 473mL cans. H.H.A. is a clear copper ale with a lustrous (almost) white head.

It's pleasantly aromatic, with slightly sweet metallic notes and a fair degree of floral hop bitterness. This stuff is really quite exceptionally flavourful for a brew produced by a Canadian macrobrewery. There is a bit of malt body, but it is dwarfed by a significant hop flavour. The can told me to expect an herbal and slightly spicy hop quality.  Personally, I prefer the word floral to herbal, but there definitely is a mild spice kick that closes the book on this stuff. It has a relatively dry mouthfeel.

While I typically prefer the tang of cascade hops, I liked this stuff better than the Cascade Hop Ale. I wouldn't have complained if there was a bit more development on the front end. Still, Keith's has done a creditable job of showcasing the Hallertauer hop in an interesting and flavourful way. Maybe there's hope for Canadian macrobreweries yet. Also, well done by Keith's for finally brewing ales that actually taste like ales.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Moroccan Brown Ale

Toronto, Ontario’s Spearhead Brewing Company, makers of the really excellent Hawaiian Style Pale Ale, is also the force behind Moroccan Brown Ale. The 6% alcohol brew is sold in 355mL bottles, packs in a healthy 35 IBUs, and, according to the label (which features a belly dancer), it’s “brewed with raisins, dates, figs and cinnamon”. It calls itself a “Full-flavoured American style brown ale with a Moroccan accent”.

It’s a cloudy, ruddy brown brew, topped with very little tan head, owing to the instruction on the label to pour gently to prevent sediment from infiltrating the pint.  The aroma is rich in dried fruit, but also has some molasses and malt qualities. The flavor is less sweet than I expected. The dried fruit gives some character and sweetness, but this beer compensates with a decent bolt of hoppiness, particularly in the finish, which manages to be fairly dry. The flavor starts malty and features the aforementioned dried fruits. It has a bit of a fruitcake-y vibe.
The Moroccan Brown Ale is another example of Spearhead’s willingness to experiment with traditional beer styles. At 6%, this beer doesn’t taste its strength. Even so, it’s so full-bodied that I can’t imagine drinking more than one or two in an evening.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Imperial IPA for Autism

Holy crap!  This is my 500th blog post!  I've had loads of fun since I started Stout Man in a Bitter World. I've learned a lot, improved my palate, and tried ridiculous amount of amazing beers.  Thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog. I really appreciate the support. Cheers!

For my 500th post, I wanted to write about something unique.  I chose Central City Brewers & Distillers' enjoyable Imperial IPA for Autism. According to the bottle, "$5 per bottle goes to autism research". That's a pretty serious slice of the purchase price and extremely decent.

This strong brew clocks in at a zesty 9% alcohol and has a staggering 90 IBUs. It comes in loud 650mL bottles that feature a puzzle motif

It's a cloudy brownish copper coloured ale that pours beneath a thick cream head. Its formidable aroma blends boozy warmth, caramel sweetness, and a hoppy punch. This stuff tastes every bit as strong as its 9% alcohol. Behind all the booze, there is a substantial malt body built around caramel notes. As for bitterness, at 90 IBUs, big hop character was no surprise. A very strong, resinous hop flavour dominates this brew.

I'm afraid that I played this all wrong. I downed a bottle on a muggy July afternoon after losing a squash match. It hit me like a tonne of bricks.  This is, in my opinion, definitely not a summer beer. In spite of all the bitterness, I found this stuff to be a bit too sweet and boozy to make it anything but a special occasion brew. Still, it's a fine beer with ample flavour. And with lots of dough going to a good cause, you should definitely try it.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Baldwin Fish Eye

Baldwin Fish Eye is an I.P.A. (the loud and colourful 473mL can calls it an Eye P.A.) brewed in Guelph, Ontario by the Kensington Brewing Company. It contains a healthy 6.5% alcohol and 65 IBUs. The can helpfully informed me that "no fish were harmed in the making of this beer".

It has a healthy amber colour and pours with a thick layer of off-white head. It's slightly hazy and mildly carbonated. Its significantly hoppy aroma has some citrus notes as well as a coppery lilt. It's pretty well balanced, in that there are rich malt and caramel elements that precede the bitterness.  There are some orange peel vibes, as well as some coniferous forest notes accompanied by a slight metallic flavour. Fish Eye doesn't taste its 65 IBUs. It isn't terribly bitter for an I.P.A., nor is it particularly dry.

This is a pretty strong effort from a brewery that I'm expecting big things from. It's not the most memorable I.P.A. on the market, but it is one well worth checking out.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

10 Bitter Years

10 Bitter Years is an Imperial I.P.A. from the Black Oak Brewing Co., out of Toronto, Ontario. It's brewed in honour of Black Oak's 10th anniversary, an auspicious occasion to be sure. It comes in a great big 650mL bottle and contains 8% alcohol. The bottle has the Roman numeral XIII (13) on it.  I have no idea why.

10 is a handsome pint--copper coloured, crystal clear, and topped with a near-white head. It's the colour of a shiny penny. It is very aromatic, with notes of caramel packed in amongst big hop scents of evergreen and grapefruit. The flavour is very bitter, but there is a good deal of balance. There are malt elements as well as a kind of earthiness that lends a bit of warmth. Also, there's a whole pile of booze, which also contributes to the warmth. The mouthfeel is quite dry. It's strong as hell. As for the bitterness, this Imperial India Pale Ale hits some of my favourite hop notes--resin and evergreen. It has a great flavour that isn't just a hop-a-thon.

This is a really excellent strong beer. It's a potent and flavourful brew. If you don't want it, I'll gladly drink yours.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Muskoka Summer Weiss

According to the label, Muskoka Summer Weiss is an "intriguingly delicious summer what beer".  It comes from the good folks at the Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario. It's sold in 355mL bottles and contains a standard 5% alcohol.

M.S.W. pours an almost clear, sunny gold. It looks like a faintly hazy pale lager. It has very little head, but a decent amount of carbonation. Its lovely aroma is all wheat, yeast, and citrus. The flavour faithfully mimics the nose. Citrus and yeast represent the primary notes. There's also a delicate floral note in there somewhere. The finish is wheaty and brief.

Refreshing and fizzy, this stuff is a more than adequate cool down on a hot afternoon--a welcome addition to a backyard BBQ. For some reason, I was expecting tart citrus, rather than sweet, but the mix that they've landed on works well. I'd really have liked this stuff to have poured with a bit more head. The M.S.W. is not nearly as elite as Mad Tom IPA, an exceptional offering from Muskoka, but it is a really fine beer in its own right.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Guinness Black Lager

I was pretty floored when I saw Guinness Black Lager at the liquor store.  I had no idea that Guinness & Co. had branched out beyond their famed stouts. This black lager hails from St. James's Gate, Dublin, Ireland. It's sold in 330mL bottles and contains a light 4.5% alcohol. According to the label, this stuff is "cold brewed with roasted barley".

It's a deep, dark brown lager streaked with amber and ruby highlights. It poured with a thick, off-white head that starts thick and quickly faded. The aroma is grassy, but also has some malty qualities. It's very easy-drinking for a dark beer. It moves from sweet to bitter, with fairly significant focus on rich maltiness. The finish is mildly bitter, but remains malty to the end. There is some nice, roasty warmth in this brew which is otherwise quite refreshing.

It was a real novelty to see something new from Guinness and it's ain't bad either. It's not super memorable, but it was decent enough. Give it a try.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Bolshevik Bastard

Bolshevik Bastard is a Russian Imperial Stout that clocks in at 9% alcohol. It's brewed by Burlington, Ontario's Nickel Brook Brewing Co. I ordered and enjoyed a 355mL bottle at a Kensington Market beer bar. The label says that this stuff is "Brewed by Comrades" and declares that this stuff is a "Miracle of Science". Okay. Bring it on.

Its nose is grainy, malty, and heavy on the thick molasses.  It's also pretty boozy. While thick for a strong stout, the mouthfeel is pretty velvety. It's not anemic by any sense, but the flavour isn't as bold as I expected. It's sweet and malty with jumbo molasses up front, with an understated but building bitterness riding in the backseat. The finish has a whisper of cranberry tartness. Aesthetically, it comes in a handsome bottle. The hammer and sickle look cool and its not overblown. The beer itself is deep and dark. It pours beneath an unexpectedly thin tan head.

I'd have liked a bit more hoppiness.  Overall, though, this is a fine entry, but not terribly memorable.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Maverick & Gose

Maverick & Gose represents my first foray into the gose style. Gose is, according to that most august of sources, Wikipedia, an historic style of German beer that's brewed with at least 50% of its grain being malted wheat.

M & G is "a well crafted collaboration" between Amsterdam Brewery and Great Lakes Brewery, two of Toronto's most well-established purveyors of fine craft suds. When I saw it at the liquor store, I thought to myself, "I've never tried that", followed immediately by, "Who am I to resist a Top Pun?".

M & G comes in a pretty snazzy 500mL bottle and contains 5.9% alcohol. It's a cloudy and cheery orange-gold that looks a lot like a conventional wheat beer. The aroma has a sharp, salty tang and some tart citrus notes. As well, there is some considerable yeastiness. The label tells me that this enticing brew is made using pink Himalayan salt, some spices, and is aged in chardonnay barrels. I found it to have a light and lively mouthfeel, not unlike a typical wheat beer, but the flavour was very different. It was milder than I expected it to be--there were notes of citrus and wheat; however, there is a genuinely salty brine that makes the finish quite unusual. There's even a slight dose of bitterness in there at the end. I didn't taste a lot of the spices that I was expecting.

Despite the saltiness, this stuff managed to be relatively thirst-quenching and crisp. It's a mild and easy-going beer with a unique flavour that doesn't taste anywhere near its 5.9% alcohol content. I'd pair this beer with fish. My neighbour started grilling some fillets partway through my pint and the combo was mouth watering. Kudos to Amsterdam and GLB, firstly for collaborating, and secondly, for working on an uncommon style.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


M.P.A. (Marlborough Pale Ale) is a tasty brew from Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand's Renaissance Brewing. It clocks in at a weighty 8.5% alcohol and comes in 500mL bottles. According to the bottle, this stuff is brewed using N.Z. hops. The label prepared me for "an explosion of Rakan hops".

This is a darkish, auburn ale--hazy and topped with a cloud of cream head. It's big, boozy aroma gives off notes of raisin and a strong dose of slightly spicy hops. This formidable beer navigates a fine balance between malty, fruitcake notes and a spicy, well-rounded, bitter finish. Accompanying both main facets of the flavour is ample alcoholic warmth. A bit less emphasis on the rasin notes on the front end would have been alright with me.

I was so eager to try this stuff that I drank a third of it before I remembered to take a picture. Imagine more head.
The label suggested pairing this beer with spicy dishes or an aged cheese. All I had was a mini-wheel of Babybel, but it was a pretty nice accompanyment.

Another winner from a fantastic Kiwi brewery, this stuff is flavourful and strong, with some subtlety and more malt than many Imperial I.P.A.s.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Prison Break Breakout Pilsner

From Guelph, Ontario's Double Trouble Brewing Co. comes Prison Break Breakout Pilsner, a really exceptional pale lager. It's sold in playful 473mL cans and contains 5% alcohol. The can makes some pretty bold claims about a pilsner that'll "set your palate free of uninspiring lagers" and an "unconfined flavour" that "demonstrates just how good a lager can taste". They certainly got my interest.

Prison Break is a bit hazier than a conventional pilsner, though it does have the classic straw gold colour and the white head. The aroma is grass and grain, but with a dollop of bitterness that hints at good things to come. The front end is grain-driven, with some hay flavours and just the faintest brush of sweetness. The back end is bitter--not pale ale bitter, but for a pilsner, it has ample hop presence.

This is definitely a pilsner for the craft beer set. I admit it: I buy into the hype on the can. This is an impressive pale beer--a real departure from the standard macros, but still accessible to fans of the major national brands. This is the kind of stuff that could be a gateway to craft beers for lager drinkers.  It's hella crisp and refreshing too.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Melville's Raspberry Craft Lager

Melville's Raspberry Craft Lager comes from Edinburgh, Scotland, where it is crafted by the Innis & Gunn Brewing Company. Its tiny, 275mL bottles say "Refreshingly British", and it contains a feeble 4.1% alcohol.

The Raspberry Craft Lager has a decidedly unbeerlike pinkish-red hue, topped with a white head. It's pretty clear and fairly fizzy. It has a rich, raspberry aroma; one that is more sweet than tart. The flavour is huge on raspberry, but pretty thin on beer. The underlying lager is definitely more of a flavour platform than a standalone brew. There is, however, a faint bitter twist in the finish.

Sweet and crisp, this stuff is a very refreshing summer drink, but if you're in the mood for a beer, it might not totally fit the bill. At 4.1%, this stuff could definitely stand to be a bit stronger. The label suggested pouring it over ice. I opted not to, because ice in beer freaks me out, but I bet it'd be pretty decent. I've sampled many better raspberry beers, but  I've had worse ones too.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Red Racer Craft White Ale

Another brew included in my mixed six from Surrey, British Columbia's Central City Brewing Company, Red Racer Craft White Ale contained a standard 5% alcohol and came in a 355mL can. It poured a pale, swampy golden colour--cloudy and topped with a white head that faded almost instantly.

It has a very faint aroma with a whiff of citrus and some mild yeast. The flavour has orange notes--not surprising, since the can says its brewed with dried orange peel and coriander. However, the coriander flavour is not particularly prominent.

Truthfully, I found this beer quite disappointing, particularly compared to the other two quality brews in the mixed six. It's thin and not wildly flavourful. It's a refreshing enough beer--one that will soothe you on a hot day--but it is far from my favourite white beer. I'd need a bit more carbonation and a lot more spice and flavour to make this stuff worthy of a repurchase.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.