Monday, 30 January 2017

Nine Locks India Pale Ale

When you travel over the holidays, social engagements come up, and sometimes they're so delightful that you only have a few minutes to write up the beer you've been given, lest you miss out on the merriment. Here's one such review:

Nine Locks India Pale Ale came my way during a trip home--a gift from the brilliant and lovely AO. It comes from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia's Nine Locks Brewing Company. It's a 6.9% brew with 70 IBUs. Gold and hazy, it poured with an eggshell head.

It has a rich, sweet, and citrusy nose. The flavour is similar, with satsuma vibes. Pretty decent stuff. Not memorable, but well made.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

People's Porter

People's Porter is a revolutionary ale (at least based on its label) from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It's brewed by Foothills Brewing and comes in 12oz bottles. It packs a respectable 5.8% alcohol and 42 IBUs, while pouring blood-black, with an eggshell head that could have lasted a bit longer.

It has a hearty malt and grain aroma with enough mocha to leave me salivating. The flavour is big on roasted malts and is a bit earthy, but also has a decent hops kick evident in the finish. Notes of chocolate and coffee are present, but understated.

This beer has been provided to me by more than one North Carolina friend on more than one occasion, but it hasn't run my critical gauntlet until today. I'd say it fared quite well. It's not elite, but it'd be the kind of Porter that'd adorn my fridge regularly, should I find myself living in The Old North State. Mellow and well crafted.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Lord of Lupulin

According to the 473mL can of Lord of Lupulin, Pint Pursuits Brewing Co. is a Toronto establishment that actually does its brewing (for the time being at least) in Guelph, Ontario. I picked up a can of the 5.4% 52 IBU pale ale the other day, and I've been itching to try it ever since. Once I finally found a quite moment to crack it, the beer proved to be a brownish-orange hue. It was hazy and poured with a pretty layer of eggshell head--the only knock I had against the looks was that there was an amount of yeasty sediment.

As for aroma, this little number had a mild but engaging nose, with notes of juicy orange and citrus hops leading the charge. The flavour had similar elements, but in different proportions--it was the citrusy hop bitterness that was at the fore and tropical fruit vibes playing a raucous backup. For a pale ale, this stuff had a serious IPA-style finish that left me very pleased.

Lord of Lupulin was an excellent addition to the Ontario pale ale scene. It had a fairly memorable flavour and very little downside. I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for Pint Pursuits beer in the future!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

St. Benedict's Breakfast Dubbel

St. Benedict's Breakfast Dubbel came highly recommended by a beer seller in Greensboro, North Carolina. Brewed in Saxapahaw, NC by Haw River Farmhouse Ales, this juicy dubbel contains 7.2% alcohol. According to the info on the 500mL bottle, this Belgian-inspired brewski is made with flaked oats, cocoa nibs, dark Belgian chocolate, and two types of coffee beans sourced from Muddy Dog Roasting Company. All that and a cool label left me aching to crack it open.

My beer flowed out smoothly and with a nice dark brown hue. It poured with such a thick and vigourous head that I had to take a break halfway through pouring the stuff, lest I lose a precious drop. It's nose was sweet, rich, and malty, with elements of chocolate, coffee, and a tart whiff of fruit. The flavour proved to be extremely complex and layered, and a lot more like a porter than a dubbel. For one thing, the beer was not as far along the fruit sweetness spectrum than most of the dubbels I've sampled. As well, the addition of coffee and dark chocolate made for a more bitter ale than the Belgian and Belgian-style dubbels in my repertoire. The beer finished with a pretty decent hops profile, too.

Really a unique dubbel, St. Benedict's Breakfast wasn't a great exemplar of the style, but it was a fantastic beer! Rich and flavourful, with lots of nice ingredient flourishes, this beer left me deeply pleased and sated.

Once again, this came my way from KC, the greatest pal of them all.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Low Gear Sessionable Ale

Maclean's Ales from Hanover, Ontario can usually be counted on to deliver austere packaging, but the 473mL can of Low Gear Sessionable Ale was uncommonly vivid. The beer within was genuinely sessionable, at just 3.5%. Described as a golden ale, Low Gear was a clear, straw coloured brew with a fluffy white head.

The beer displayed a very grainy aroma, with a little tick of hops dryness. It's flavour proved grassy and mellow, with a pilsner quality, but the back end had a touch of pale ale hops. With a pretty substantial mouthfeel, this beer proved to taste a lot more robust than it's low alcohol pedigree.

Low Gear was an interesting number. It wasn't bright and citrusy like most of my fave session ales, but still flavourful and pleasingly. I'd have liked more hops, though. That cost them a bit.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Hop Hydrant Red IPA

Hop Hydrant Red IPA has a dubious distinction. With all due respect to Raleigh, North Carolina's Gizmo BrewWorks, the 1 pint 6 ounce bottles of their brew might just have the ugliest label I've ever seen. The label features a sad looking and crudely drawn dalmatian in a firefighter's hat (that looks more like a ball cap) getting inexplicably pummeled by a stream of hops spewing from a fire hydrant. Weird. Fortunately, the 6.3%, 68 IBU ale within was tasty enough to make up for the packaging (I'm sorry to the designers--it's just my opinion and I recognize that I couldn't do any better).

Copper coloured and hazy, the actual beer was a beaut, beneath a lush cream head. It had a nose that was initially robustly malty and tinged with caramel, but which was soon swallowed up by an evergreen hops presence. The flavour had something of roasted malt about it, too, which was nicely balanced against a sticky, bitter finish.

Once I got past the label, Hop Hydrant proved to be a delightful ale. It was a tad sweet, but not by much. All told, a beer approaching excellent.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


When I cracked my 355mL can of Hoplanta, it blew its top--beer explosion. No idea why, since I'd just taken it out of the fridge. Oh well. Once I got most of the beer in a glass, all was well.

Hoplanta comes from Atlanta, Georgia. It's brewed by Red Brick Brewing Co. An IPA, it's a swampy brown-orange brew that pours with an off-white head. At 6.8%, there is a bit of heft, but also some evidence of moderation. According to the can, it's brewed using eight varieties of hops, but these are unlisted.

With a sticky, resinous bouquet and considerable sweetness, Hoplanta was a blast to the olfactory sense. It's flavour proved almost as murky as its colour--dank and sweet, mostly, with lots of hops toward the back. The initial mouthfeel was oddly thin, but as bitterness entered the scene, it built rapidly into a lingering aftertaste.

Unfortunately, Hoplanta wasn't totally my cup of tea. In the world of IPAs, my favourites tend to be the ones that scream bitterly in a single direction: bright and citrusy; piney and crisp; resinous and gloomy. This one seemed to have too many cooks in the kitchen, leaving it a bit rudderless. Good strength, though, and certainly not a bad beer. Just a little busy.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Even More Jesus

Even More Jesus is, at 12% alcohol, a beefy imperial stout. It's produced by Evil Twin Brewing, a Danish outfit, in Stratford, Connecticut. Sold in austere pint cans (instead of Evil Twin's typically ostentatious and awesome ones), this bad boy lets the beer inside do the talking.

This brew looks like a frothy cup of espresso--deepest brown and topped with a thick tan head. It has a nose that is curiously understated, but rather complex. There are aromatic notes of roasted malts, leather, dried fruit, and cocoa. The flavour combines a lot of similar elements--leather, raisin, roasted malt, and chocolate--with a huge dose of boozy heat.

Yet another gift from KC, to whom I'll always raise a glass. I thought this beer was damned impressive. It has outsized flavour, but manages a refined profile. Also, for such a strong ale, this imperial stout was miraculously not over-sweet.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Whammy Bar No. 2 India Pale Ale

Whammy Bar No. 2 India Pale Ale is born and raised in Ipswich, MA, to its proud parent, Clown Shoes Beer. It's a 6.5% brew that comes in 12oz cans that feature a dude playing his guitar at a crossroads.

The beer is hazy and gold, with a carpet of fluffy white head. It has a hefty nose with lots of hoppy, resinous notes, and a whiff of forest greenery. The flavour is quite sweet, over top of a dank, woodsy bitterness. There is more malt than I expected, though this is kept in check by jumbo hops.

Like so many of the American brews on my blog, this one came to me via the relentlessly great KC. It proved to be a very enjoyable brewski, but an imperfect one. Too sweet by a few ticks and not as assertively bitter as it could have been, Whammy Bar No. 2 managed good strength and interesting flavour. I'd gladly drink it again.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Dunkels Bock

I have great friends! They buy me lots of beer and that's rad. One of those great friends is a brilliant and charming SL, who gifted me with a pair of brews for my birthday, one of which was Dunkels Bock, from Toronto's Bandit Brewery. Like Bandit's other brews, this one featured a raccoon on the label of the 500mL bottle. 
At 6.3%, Dunkels Bock had some real heat, without being too strong. It was a swampy brown brew that poured with an eggshell head. It's aroma wasn't particularly pungent, but it had notes of grain and brown sugar, and a bit of spice. The flavour proved to be extremely malty, with lots of sweetness, some earthy tones, and some clove spice. Not a lot of bitterness, but there was a fair degree of boozy warmth that belied the 6.3% listing--I'd have guessed stronger.

A dark lager with some heft and some heart, I thought that Dunkels Bock was a strong effort from a good new brewery. A tad sweet, but really quite nice.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Loose Lips Lager

A Vienna lager hailing from Toronto, Loose Lips Lager is brewed by Longslice Brewery. It's 473mL can contains a couple of humourous quips, including the admonition "Seriously: Don't drink and boat!" (good advice), some nautical punnery, and the fact that Loose Lips is the "ultra premiumiest". It contains a modest 5% and pours an attractive dull copper colour--clear with an eggshell head.

Loose Lips has a rich, sweet nose, with roasted malt and caramel notes. The flavour has a similar profile. It's a bit too sweet for me, but has a nice malt body and some buttery and bready elements. The finish had a tinge of hops, but not a lot.

Loose Lips is my second dance with a Longslice product, after trying their Hopsta La Vista (which I didn't love). I thought that Loose Lips was a much better beer. Despite its over-sweetness, it tasted well made and pleasant.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Beach One Cerveza

During a mid-December snowstorm, I decided to drink incongruously and crack a can of Beach One Cerveza, a Mexican-style lager from the Wasaga Beach Brewing Company. This beer is brewed in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, which, according to the 473mL can, is the longest freshwater beach in the world--87,500 beer cans long. At just 4.5%, Cerveza One is nearly a light beer. It's extremely clear, highly carbonated, and pale gold, with a bright white head.

This beer had very little aroma--just a whiff of malt. Likewise, there was little by way of flavour. It's thin, but crisp, and has some faint malt and hops notes.

Cerveza One is a locally-made beer for the macro lite beer fan. Totally unremarkable, with good lucks but little taste.

Rating: 5.0 out of 10.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Rascal London Porter

I had never heard of Inveralmond Brewery, so the fact that Rascal London Porter was #3 in Inveralmond's Inspiration Series meant little to me. However, the sight of a new porter on the shelf at my local beer market certainly caught my interest. I headed home with a smile on my face and a 330mL bottle of Rascal under my arm.

Turns out that Inveralmond Brewery is a U.K. outfit based in Perth. Their Rascal London Porter contained 5.6% and, according to the label, "there's mischief lurking in the embers of its dark mahogany depths." This a beer label or a Tolkien novel?

The beer itself looked black, but had deep brown highlights. It poured with a thin cream head, but this dissolved to a slight ring after a moment. To my sniffer, Rascal demonstrated hearty sweetness, roasted malt character, and a more than modest zeal for chocolate. One sip confirmed those suspicions, but also introduced a new element--a pretty decent bitter finish.

While the nose had me bracing for a syrupy sweet ale, the actual execution, while perhaps a bit sweeter than I'd have liked, really played its hand nicely. Flavour was rich and hearty. It tasted even stronger than its 5.6%, and left me wanting more. The finish was good, but a heavier had on the hops scoop might have enriched things a bit, too.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Ten Fidy

The latest batch of imperial stout/motor oil to find its way into my larder was the delightfully named Ten Fidy--you guessed it, a 10.5% bomb. This bruiser comes from Brevard, North Carolina and the Oskar Blues Brewery. With its silver and black 355mL cans, it felt appropriate to down this mighty ale while watching my beloved Oakland Raiders play.

Ten Fidy was a midnight black grog with a thick cloud of tan head. It had a potent nose that reverberated with roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate notes, superimposed over a boozy base. A thick mouthfeel contains a flavour rich in cocoa and dark malt elements. Behind the malty front end, there was a sassy bitterness.

Ten Fidy came to me by way of the righteous and rad MM; one of the First Ladies of Matthews, NC. Sweet and strong, this imperial stout would make a great dessert beer, though you'd risk drowning all but the most flavourful of sweets.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Swing Bridge Blonde

Swing Bridge Blonde found its way into my refrigerator by way of my generous pal LW. It's a blonde ale from Little Current on Ontario's Manitoulin Island. Named in honour of the bridge that connects the Island to the mainland, Swing Bridge comes in 473mL cans and contains the standard 5% alcohol.

Hazy, pale gold in colour, and topped with a thin white head, Swing Bridge has a nice aroma that swirls fresh grain and honey. The flavour has a similar profile, with sweet honey tones and some subtle floral notes. The weak link in the Swing Bridge chain is its too thin mouthfeel, which lacked the crispness needed.

A fine effort from a brewery that is new to me (Manitoulin Brewing Company), Swing Bridge is an interesting little blonde ale. I might not seek it out, but if I had the opportunity to quaff it again, I'd certainly be game.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.