Tag Archives: Hops

Innis & Gunn Canada Day (2012)

Back again is the Innis & Gunn Canada Day, a special oak aged seasonal. Several differences have been made since the 2011 edition. Still using ex-bourbon barrels, the 2012 is aged for 49 days rather than 54, utilizes Goldings hops rather than Fuggles, and boasts a 7.7% rather than 8.3. Of course, these elements may seem like minor differences, but based on the marked change in overall taste, they are certainly not worth overlooking.

We did a vertical, concomitant tasting of both editions — 2011 and 2012 — and this review will hold some notes about the 2011 edition as well. Tristan and I came to a consensus that the Innis & Gunn 2011 got better with age, and both of us scored it higher this time around. After noticing a pleasant dichotomy between the two beers, sipping one after the other, we decided to mix some of it together. The result was great, and certainly worth trying if you happen to have a bottle of each.

– Kamran

*****

First off, I was highly disappointed with the 2012 release. While the Canada Day is up there with my favourite beers, the 2012 is not nearly as enjoyable. The malt overtones denounce the flavours of the original; it barely even tastes like an Innis & Gunn beer.

On the nose, the malt overpowers and subdues any trace amounts of oak-infused toffee, caramel, vanilla, or butterscotch — all of which are present in the 2011. The body is silky rather than creamy like the other Innis & Gunn beers, and, instead of the sweet, savoury notes on the palate, are notes of tropical fruit, citrus, a bit of hops, and a lot of malt. Initially, the beer is quite spicy, with notes of peppers, cumin, and nutmeg. This weirdly dissipates rather quickly — Tristan, tasting it a mere few minutes later, missed out on it completely. There is a lingering malt sweetness, but a relatively crisp finish, where the Goldings hops finally come through.

This quickly became my least favourite Innis & Gunn beer, and, though I will probably buy a couple more — one to drink and one to age — I’d rather spend my money on the original. Both Tristan and I found the 2011 edition to have gotten better with age. After a year, the character changed quite drastically. It’s no longer citrusy or hoppy, and lends more of a Belgian flavour. I believe that, after a year, the beer may have gone through a spontaneous re-fermentation. There is coagulated yeast floating in the bottle and it is somewhat heavier than it was before. Both of us enjoyed it. I gave it a rating of 90 pts, 3 marks higher than previously.

Nose: 18
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 20

Kamran: 76.5 pts.

*****

The 2011 Canada Day release wasn’t earth shaking in my books, so I was feeling rather reserved going into this tasting. Frankly I am surprised by this release and how underwhelming it was. Yes, it was bound to happen… …Innis & Gunn released a beer that neither Kamran or I fell in love with. It was a strange mix of sweet and a lack of complexity that I picked up on. While the recipe was very different, I felt that this was a step backwards. The nose was malt heavy and a little overpowering. The hops were very faint under it all with the oak and toffee. The body was velvety, medium thickness, slightly bitter. The taste had hints of spice that Kamran more successfully tasted and identified. It lacked a wow factor, with no oak taste. The finish was malty sweet, some light fruit and vanilla with the hops only on the very end of the finish.

Contrast that with the aged 2011 Canada Day and there is a big difference. The aging process to the 2011 release was very kind in its final result, becoming a more balanced and even keeled beer.  the nose was tamed and fairly mono, the body felt thicker and less bitter. The taste was mild, fruity, floral and genuinely quite pleasant. Finally the finish was flat due too a lack of carbonation, but a solid minute of flavour after swallowing. The final mark increased by 1.5 pts to a total of 82 pts. when aged.

Overall, if you purchased or plan to purchase what’s left of the 2012 stock, consider aging it for a year and it should improve. But honestly this is one I would pass up.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19.5
Finish: 18.5

Tristan: 78 pts.

*****

Final Average: 77.25 pts.

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Innis & Gunn Winter Ale

In the winter of 2011 Innis and Gunn released a winter pack with three beers and a collectible glass. The three beers were the Original, the Spiced Rum Finish and the Winter 2011. Needless to say Kamran and I purchased a few of these packs between the two of us. This brew was a rich savoury beer that was made for the winter night and could be sipped on next to the fire, or equally enjoyed with roast pork or rack of lamb for dinner.

-Tristan

*****

The Innis & Gunn Winter ale has a strong malt backbone, but enough hops and oak infused flavours to make for a crisp finish. While not as complex or profound as, say, the original or the Highland cask, it is quite delicious in its unique appropriation of the oak.

The sweetness of the malt integrates itself quite nicely with subtle flavours of vanilla and oak. While I miss that the toffee and caramel is all but lost on the Winter Ale, I can appreciate what it has to offer. The body is relatively creamier and heavier; unlike the original, I would prefer not to session this beer — it’s even more of a sipper. The palate is deftly complemented with flavours of roast and chestnut, that, while not long-lived, are quite enjoyable, and result in a long, consistent, and crisp finish.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 89 pts.

*****

Only two beers the night of this tasting, several months ago now, cracked the 90’s in scoring, and both happened to be in the Winter pack. This beer did so well because it seemed to be different than the tried and true approach of the brewery. It was richer and fuller while keeping the familiar sweetness, which was more subdued than usual.

With some unique aromas on the nose: Christmas pudding, apple, pear, dried fruit all hidden amongst the tamed malt and oak, this was an intriguing shift. The body for this Scottish ale was thick and well formed, creamy yet not heavy like a stout. The taste was primarily malty with some citrus orange zest, and a more of a rum taste than whisky in my opinion. The finish was vanilla, citrus, oak and it lingered in a nice and enjoyable mellow manner. A sipping beer through and through.

Kamran’s finishing thoughts struck the nail on the head so I wont repeat them here. However, I can only hope that next holiday season Innis and Gunn release a beer of similar caliber, and that hopefully I can purchase it sans the gift box as I now have a few too many Innis and Gunn glasses in my cupboards!!!!

Nose: 19.5
Body: 24
Taste: 24
Finish: 24

Tristan: 91.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 90.25 pts.

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Innis & Gunn 18 Year Old Highland Cask (2011)

The Innis & Gunn Highland Cask is a once-a-year seasonal that comes out in the fall. As the name suggests, it’s a beer that has been aged in previously used single malt whisky barrels from the Highland area of Scotland. While they do not release the source of their barrels, and while it probably changes each year, it’s safe to assume they are purchasing from a major distributor, and, therefore, well-known distillery — likely owned by Grants. Highland single malts tend to be light, biscuity, and slightly sweet, particularly on the finish. These flavours and textures are transferred into the Innis & Gunn 18 Year Highland Cask which is aged for 69 days, and boasts a 7.1 alcohol percentage.

– Kamran

*****

On multiple occasions I have claimed the Innis & Gunn 18 Year Highland Cask as the best beer in the world. Since then, nothing has changed, and I have yet to meet a product that better epitomizes what a great beer should be. This is my favourite beer — this particular release. I have 4 bottles remaining; they have to last my lifetime! — I doubt they’ll last another year.

The original flavours typical of Innis & Gunn are even more pronounced here. Notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and honey come out in spades both on the nose and the palate. To top this off, there is a mild whisky taste, that comes through on the finish in particular, giving it a crisp, refreshing, long lasting aftertaste. The level of sweetness is quite high, and the beer is incredibly vibrant, unlike the 21 year, which we tasted — for the second time — vertically. The 21 year boasts notes of citrus, and the typical Innis & Gunn flavours are relatively subdued, while the 18 year is a powerhouse of aromas and tastes.

There is something highly fresh about the Innis & Gunn 18 Year. It must be the Highland water or something. The beer just tastes exceptionally fresh. There is a touch of whisky on one’s initial taste, that subverts itself into a creamy-velvetty-ness on the palate; the beer is certainly a touch heavier than the original. Besides making it more robust, I believe the whisky, in itself, opens up the flavours of the beer more. As a result, we have the strongest predilection of Innis & Gunn flavours, making it my favourite!

Nose: 24.5
Body: 24
Taste: 25
Finish: 24.5

Kamran: 98 pts.

*****

While I scored this beer well, my favourite Innis & Gunn was the predecessor to this beer, the Highland 21 year cask. And while Kamran and I may disagree on which vintage was better, this one surely does not disappoint even if it was my “second best” of the two years.

This vintage was sweeter on the nose with more malt, oak, vanilla, and toffee. The body was smooth and even crisp, if not a touch sharp for the first few sips. Compared to the 21 year, the 18 year cask was noticeably darker in colour. The taste was malty with some bitterness. There were notes of caramel and toffee with vanilla. The whisky was clearly more present in the taste of this vintage. While the finish lasted longer by a tad, it was pleasant with the combination of malt, whisky, and vanilla.

I think part of the reason Kamran and I have the two competing for top beers is because by the time he tried the 21 year it had already been aged compared to the fresh 2011 cask. Either way, the beer was excellent and I certainly hope that Innis & Gunn continue to make these seasonal releases involving the highland casks.

Nose: 25
Body: 23.5
Taste: 23
Finish: 23.5

Tristan: 95 pts.

*****

Final Average: 96.5 pts.

Head to head of the 18 and 21

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Innis & Gunn Canada Day (2011)

This is a special once-a-year seasonal by Innis & Gunn. It is released about 3 weeks prior to Canada Day, along with an ‘Independence Day” seasonal that’s exclusively seen in the states. Clearly they’re trying to take advantage of the increase in liquor sales around Canada Day/the 4th of July. That’s fine by me, a new Innis & Gunn beer is always special. The 2011 is stored for 54 days in ex-bourbon barrels, utilizes fuggles hops, and rings in at 8.3%.

– Kamran

*****

The Canada Day (2011) is complex and unique, and changes significantly over time (Check out the notes made on the 2012 version where we do a vertical tasting). While I had enjoyed this beer last summer upon the release, we didn’t taste this until it was nearly a half-year aged already, so bear this in mind while reading the review.

Initially, the Canada Day (2011) Innis & Gunn was quite hop-forward and citrusy. After a half-year, it was still relatively hop forward and citrusy. It is certainly the hoppiest Innis & Gunn beer I’ve had — never got to try the IPA. This level of hoppiness is quite pleasing to my palate, as I enjoy a nice well-hopped beer. Besides the hops are the typical Innis & Gunn flavours, such as toffee and vanilla. They are quite pronounced, but slightly subdued by the citrus-hop finish that dies rather quickly. One may also taste the yeast. I believe this is due to the bottle being aged for a half a year, and, after a year, we will find out that my belief was accurate. The body is creamy and smooth, though slightly lighter than the Original.

Nose: 23
Body: 22.5
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 87 pts.

*****

Canada is supposedly the third largest consumer market for Innis and Gunn -which isn’t exactly too surprising- and they have deemed us worthy of a special release brew! Aged 54 days and sitting at 8.3% alcohol/volume, this beer does feel much bolder than a typical Innis and Gunn.

On the nose there is a light hop aroma blended with malty sweetness, while the taste carries the hops, the malt is less pronounced and seemingly less balanced than others; however, it still has the vanilla and toffee notes mixed in there. The apricot coloured body was cloudy/opaque with less carbonation than the original, with a slight bitterness and thicker texture than the others. On the finish, it was oaken with lingering hops on the palate and the standard vanilla/toffee duo.

While it was a good beer and a change from the typical malty brews, the Original is still a better bet for cost and overall experience.

Nose: 23
Body: 20.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 18

Tristan: 80.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 83.75 pts.

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Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Here we have a relatively special beer from Brooklyn Brewing, a craft brewery located in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. While the flavour of chocolate is quite often imparted organically in the making of a stout, some brewmasters, especially in recent times, will add chocolate into the mix, post fermentation. In this case, we have black chocolate added to give Brooklyn’s stout an extra little kick.

– Kamran

*****

I love dark chocolate, and I love dark beers: I will love this. This seems logical, right? Well, though logical, it was only partially right. I didn’t love this beer, but I did rightly enjoy it.

Beneath the malty sweetness lies a noticeable, but relatively subdued, chocolate aroma. With air and a bit of warmth, the chocolate comes out more. At 10%, the beer is heavy, and, actually, a bit harsh. The alcohol unfortunately takes away from the flavour & smoothness lent by the chocolate. However, if you hold the liquid in your mouth, like how you might do with a whisky, some of the alcohol evaporates and the beer gets some air through it, making it creamier — velvety — and more flavourful.

On the palate, the beer goes from having a malt sweetness, to being slightly tart, and finishes with a light hop bitterness. In all three respects, the sensations are quite mild. The finish doesn’t leave much, aside from the remaining malt tones; however, upon exhalation, the chocolate comes out more. So, drink this beer while breathing out your mouth!

Nose: 19
Body: 19.5
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 79 pts.

*****

I am very much a fan of solid porters and stouts as I may have mentioned in previous posts, and I for one did really enjoy the richness of this particular Brooklyn brew. At 10% alc/vol. this beer has a wee bit o’ strength to it, hidden within one of heavier and certainly blackest stouts on the market. If one considers Guinness a meal in a glass and struggles to finish one, I’d likely suggest stealing a few sips from a friend who orders this as opposed to a whole pint or bottle.

The aroma of the beer is one of malt and chocolate… as if anything else were to be expected?! The body is heavy and thick, with a velvety texture when held in the mouth. Certainly some level of complexity to balance the malt and chocolate, but the alcohol is evident and adds a little roughness to the mix – so not exactly a smooth sipper. Surprisingly, this stout wasn’t as chocolate flavored as I expected compared to stouts I’ve tried at craft pubs like the Alibi Room or St. Augustine’s in Vancouver. Perhaps it was the noticeable presence of the higher alcohol percentage, or the type of chocolate used, but I expected a more dominant taste in that regard. The finish was bitter followed what i can only describe as a brief tartness followed by a longer lasting mix of chocolate and slight hops.

While the lack of chocolate taste and the “tartness” I sensed at the end were two detractors from the beer, it wasn’t bad at all. I did enjoy the richness of it but unlike Guinness, I could not drink more than one or two of these in a night. However, while not a stout, a local chocolate porter that’s just as good would be the Phillips Chocolate Porter which is much lighter and more chocolate tasting.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 24
Taste: 19
Finish: 19

Tristan: 83.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81.25 pts.

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Phillips Trainwreck Barley Wine

A seasonal by Phillips brewery, this 10% barley wine packs a punch. For those unfamiliar, a barley wine has nothing to do with wine, except that it has a strong alcohol percentage — likening the percentage of wine. It is still, of course, fermented from grain — barley — rather than grapes, and, though many other styles of beer, such as a Russian Imperial Stout, may boast a high alcohol percentage, barley wines are a distinctly unique class of ale. They tend to be complex, earthy, fruity, a touch sour — winelike — and malty.

– Kamran

*****
I must admit, despite my current familiarity and experience with complex beers, such as barley wines and lambics, the Trainwreck, tasted about a half of a year ago, broke my barley wine cherry. Because of this, my initial impression of the beer was certainly flawed. I have since seen the err of my ways. The complexity of a barley wine surprised me, and I gave the beer extra credit simply for its uniqueness. Fact is, it’s really not unique, and after trying several other barley wines, the initially strong impression once held in my mind — of the Trainwreck — faded away.

The nose has a slight florality that is masked by delicate hops, lots of complex malts, and a slightly sour, wine-like — reminds me of a 1989 Chateaux Musar I once tasted — aroma. It’s quite heavy, and, therefore, a sipping beer; however, you couldn’t tell it was 10%. I certainly couldn’t drink more than one bomber bottle, though. Like with other complex beers, familiarity causes the flavours to grow on you, and I found myself enjoying it more as I continued drinking it. I think it was better warm, too. That said, the flavours are quite subtle, and nothing jumps out at you. In all its complexity, the flavours are muddled together, sending rather incoherent sensations on the palate. This results in what I find the weakest aspect of the beer: the finish. It lingers in an awkward, bitter-sour way. Still, a relatively enjoyable beer overall.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 20
Taste: 18.5
Finish: 17.5

Kamran: 76.5 pts.

*****

Now when it comes to barley wine I’m the first to admit, probably not a beer choice you’ll want to session all night long unless you find one that blows you away, and while the Phillips Trainwreck isn’t exactly one I’d recommend for a night session it does grow on you to the point where one or two of the 750ml bottles are a nice way to spend an evening with company. Certainly a beer that improves as you drink it, whether it be to the increase in flavours as it warms slowly or that your palate adjusts, this brew is likely my favourite of the two Phillips barley wines we’ve tried.

On the nose it has all the tell-tale signs of  barley wine in regards to sweetness with faint hops, and the body is fairly typical as well. The beer is savoury, smooth, and heavier compared to most barley wines, but certainly no liquid meal like some people find with stouts.  The flavour is caramel tones, with a slight hops tucked away. The finish is smooth with a slight bitterness/tang after you swallow it, with a lingering sweetness that you’d expect.

While I’ve certainly had better barley wines I could see myself ordering this at a pub or getting another bottle at the store for a night’s one-off beer. Not a wow-factor contender overall though, but the scoring is reflective on something above average at least.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 22
Taste: 19
Finish: 18.5

Tristan: 80 pts.

*****

Final Average: 78.25 pts.

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Anchor Liberty Ale

In San Francisco, Anchor Brewing has been a leader of the west-coast craft beer industry since the 1800s, beginning with their inaugural Anchor Steam Lager — one of my personal favourite lagers. The Liberty Ale, brewed for mere decades has become their second most reputable beer: a medium-well hopped, yet refreshingly light ale.

– Kamran

*****

First off, I love the designs on all the Anchor beers. The image on the 2011 Christmas Ale? Incredible! What a detailed and well drawn tree. I hate to say it, but an attractive bottle can always get a sale out of me. Fortunately for Anchor, their beer is good enough to justify the spectacular bottle designs, high-costs, and quality reputation.

While the Anchor Steam Lager — a crisp, well-hopped lager, may be my favourite lager — period, I think I prefer the Liberty Ale — I’m just not much of a lager boy. The Liberty Ale is slightly darker, dry-hopped, and opens with a delicate plethora of floral hops. The aroma is profoundly hoppy, despite the lack of IBUs; this is due to the combination of steam brewing and dry-hopping. On the palate, the hops — citrusy and floral, think (non-sour) grapefruit and juniper — give plenty of flavour, while not bogging it down with overuse.

The body is light and refreshing; it is quite well balanced. This lends itself to a crisp, slightly bitter finish. Regarding our previously reviewed beers, the Liberty Ale stands up to Phillips Blue Buck and Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale as one of the better session ales around.

Nose: 22.5
Body: 21.5
Taste: 22.5
Finish: 22

Kamran: 88.5 pts.

*****

While I’ve made it known I am not inclined to consume particularly hoppy beers, the Liberty Ale is certainly something I’d recommend to people who appreciate hops and the balance of floral and bitterness that accompanies it. Less subtle in hops than the Coney Island Lager by Schmaltz Brewing or Russell Brewing’s Blood Alley, this ale is much closer on the scale to an IPA than most typical ales I’ve drank. It is however a solid beer in it’s own regard and one that I’d happily split a six-pack of with a friend for a BBQ party.

For me the nose is the best part of hoppy beers. The floral aroma is always so inviting, and Anchor certainly know how to maximize on that! While it is certainly crisp and refreshing, I wouldn’t say it is a light beer, as there is a certain thickness to it. By no means is it near a stout or porter level of thickness, but it is far from being light as a lager or pilsner. With a mild hop taste and non-sweet fruity tones, this beer plays on the palate quite nicely. As a side-note, I thought I detected some trace amount of spice to the taste. The finish certainly has that floral hops taste to it that lingers the longest, with cameo appearances of fruit and some bitterness.

This was a good beer; not the best I’ve had, but one I’d try again. However, I’d probably try other beers produced by Anchor before returning to the Liberty Ale just so I can better reference it to the other available brews. I agree with Kamran’s assesment that Anchor, based on this beer alone in my experience, would fair nicely when compared to the likes of Phillip’s Blue Buck or Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 18.5
Taste: 17.5
Finish: 17.5

Tristan: 75 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81.75 pts.

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Fernie Brewing Company: Big Caboose Red Ale

Three Quarters done the mixer and we get to the Big Caboose Red Ale from Fernie Brew Company. One of their newer beers — added to the lineup in November 2011 — this is a typical red ale, straddling a fine balance of malt and hops — somewhere in the middle of the beer spectrum.

– Tristan & Kamran

*****

Similar to the Griz Pale Ale in that it doesn’t really standout, the Big Caboose Red Ale is a fairly plain, yet inoffensive dark amber ale. Unlike the Griz, though, I found the Big Caboose to have just a little bit more going on.

As with virtually all red ales, the Big Caboose has conflicting tones of malt and hops. The goal of brewing one of these beers is to perfectly integrate and balance these tones — this is the concept behind Phillips Double Dragon, a seasonal that is released once a year. In this case, though, the malt is a bit overdone, and the hops don’t shine through. As a result, the malt lends itself to a slightly sickly sweetness; it’s not heavy or dark enough to give it that roasted flavour, and not roasted or hopped enough to give it a balancing level of bitterness.

That said, it certainly doesn’t taste bad — it could be a lot worse — but it’s rather lackluster. The body is fairly rich and textured, but, again, it doesn’t really stand out, and the finish leaves one wanting.

Nose: 19
Body: 18.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 18

Kamran: 74.5 pts

*****

Well this beer was the lowest of the mixer in my ratings… but not by much. While it wasn’t bad in the slightest, I just felt it was fairly pedestrian and underwhelming. It’s heavier than the Griz Pale Ale, and less exciting in flavour than the blond Buck Wild Ale.

The nose is malty, and almost spiced from the way the roasted malt was incorporated. The body was plain, and interestingly the colour upon reflection was more similar to Dr. Pepper than a usual red ale. In flavour, the malt sweetness and roasted malt taste combine on the palate but really didn’t impress me too much. The aftertaste is short, with a lingering malty sweetness that just kinda sticks to the mouth.

Like I said, it wasn’t a bad beer, but it didn’t remind me of anything spectacular or unique. It receives a passing grade however, and i wouldn’t be opposed to drinking another in the future… so long as I’m not buying it in a six-pack.

Nose: 16
Body: 16
Taste: 14
Finish: 15

Tristan: 61 pts

*****

Final Average: 67.75

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Tree Spiced Reserve

During the holiday season, Tree Brewing, a relatively-larger-but-still-craft brewery from Kelowna releases their Spiced Reserve. It is one of only a few products they release in tallboy bottles — what is typically considered part of a Brewmaster special. In the case of their Spiced Reserve, Brewmaster Stefan Buhl uses a variety of Christmas-themed spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and whatever else Buhl throws in on a whim.

Upon first opening, Tree Brewing was larger than your typical craft-brewery. Using shaftebury’s old equipment, and going through several management and ownership changes, they have become larger still. In fact, they are one of few BC craft breweries that have product available across Canada — Ontario in particular. As a result, of course, the quality of their product has lessened to a degree — brewing on a large scale seems to necessarily yield some loss of quality — but I have to give Tree credit where it’s due, since they have managed to expand without losing their characteristic flavour — something I feel Granville Island and Okanagan Spring have all but lost.

– Kamran

*****

Tree Brewing is certainly up there with my favourite craft breweries, despite the fact that I don’t really love any of their beers. While their Hop Head Double IPA — enjoyed on tap at the alibi room, since it’s not bottled — is my favourite, I am quite pleased but rather indifferent to the rest of their beers. I think the Cutthroat Pale Ale, Thirst Beaver Amber Ale, and Kelowna Pilsner, although not ostensibly ‘great’, are some of the best everyday beers out there, and, in tallboy form, some of the most economical as well.

The Spiced Reserve opens up with a strong spice character. Under its copper-brown hue lies a myriad of holiday flavours; notes of various spices, such as nutmeg, clove, and pepper, amidst a robust floral-citrus hop profile come clear on the nose. Although there is a reasonable amount of hops, there is a sufficient amount of malt to balance the flavours; in fact, in terms of its hop-malt balance, I’d compare the Spiced Reserve to Phillips Double Dragon Red Ale, a seasonal that attempts to perfectly balance its hops and malts. This feat gives the beer much richness, but the body is still rather light and smooth.

The spices are quite abundant, but not too overwhelming. Still, because of the spices, I wouldn’t want to drink more than one of these. Nutmeg and cinnamon, I would say, are the most liberally spiced, while the beer finishes with a long, slightly bitter, cinnamon-hop aftertaste.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 19.5
Taste: 20
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 81.5 pts.

*****

Well as I may have stated before, I’m not the biggest fan of overly bitter beers…. Combined with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, two things I tolerate sparingly, this beer was doomed from the moment of pouring. That might be a slight exaggeration, but still I felt a little let down by this beer.

The nose was initially malty, with the spices and hops aromas. In body it was bitter and not so smooth. It had a malty sweetness to taste  that was not unappealing, but nothing special in my opinion. The finish was short lived and consisted of spices and hops.

Unlike Kamran, I did not fully appreciate this beer. It wasn’t my style. I’m sure other found it great seeing as Tree is a very respectable brewery, who made the best winter ale I’ve ever had, but this sadly was not one I enjoyed. I look forward to trying more of their beers in future, just less bitterness and spice for me please!

Nose: 18
Body: 18
Taste: 18
Finish: 15

Tristan: 69 pts.

*****

Final Average: 75.25 pts.

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Coney Island Lager

The Coney Island Lager, produced by Shmaltz Brewing — an authentic Jewish brewery from New York — is a (hopped) lager that utilizes Czech pilsner yeast and multiple strains of malts and hops. Along with other Schmaltz beers, such He’brew: The Chosen Beer, this lager is Kosher!

– Kamran

*****

One sniff or sip of this ‘lager’ and one immediately thinks of India Pale Ales. Though I’m unsure of what the IBU (International Bitter Units) for this beer is, I’m sure it’s high enough that it could be classified as an IPA; however, due to the bottom-fermenting yeast being used, it must be known as a lager. Regardless, it is much hoppier than so called IPA’s such as Alexander Keith’s, which should itself be called a lager.

The Coney Island Lager should really be referred to as a hopped lager, comparable to Czechvar — which uses similar yeast, malts, and hops — Phillips Eternal Optimist, Lighthouse’s Overboard Imperial Pilsner, and Okanagan Springs Hopped. As such, I find it much more enjoyable than your typical lager — there’s more complexity and flavour!

With a pleasant, citrusy nose, solid hop profile — replete with robust aroma hops — crisp finish (no lingering lager aftertaste, just a consistent floral bitterness), and relatively light body, the Coney Island lager is a great beer, and not a huge step for a lager-boy who wishes to expand their beer horizons.

Nose: 21
Body: 20.5
Taste: 22
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 85 pts.

*****

With its unique labeling, we were not exactly sure what we were getting ourselves into when we selected this beer for our tasting. Certainly once we started dividing it between the three of us did we realize we had found something that certainly changed our perceptions of what a lager could be. The rich colour, the sweet balance of 8 malts (Specialty 2-row, 2 types of Pale Ale, Marris Otter, Red Wheat, Cara Munich 60L, Light Munich 6L, Vienna 4L, Flaked Barley) and 6 hops (Warrior, Amarillo, Cascade, Tettenange, Saaz, Hallertau) this delicate balance was held together by the Czech pilsner yeast used by Shmaltz Brewing. It has a bitter and crisp taste mellows out on the palate to a nice smooth, slightly hopped aftertaste. Certainly it would be a beer worth exploring again in the future.

Nose: 20
Body: 18
Taste: 20
Finish: 18

Tristan: 76 pts.

*****

If you went to Coney Island, I’m assuming you would find 2 things; this lager and the iconic Ferris wheel made famous by 1979 film The Warriors. Here’s the kicker…I actually thoroughly enjoy both!

As Kam mentioned above, this really should not be calling itself a lager. Judging by the scent this beer greets you with, which is a surprisingly strong array of hops leading to a pleasant aroma,  Coney Island Lager should really be  Coney Island IPA. The body also does not adhere to the name, as it combines a dark appearance with a smooth texture to create a rather heavy beer that could easily fill you in two or three bottles. The taste is also heavily reminiscent of an IPA, with the hops from the aroma carrying over into the flavour, creating a very bitter, slightly citric tang. The finish continues the IPA style textures, with the citric flavours carrying for around a minute before fading. All in all, a very nice ‘Indian Pale Lager’ which may act as a good starting point for anyone unfamiliar with IPAs. Definitely recommended.

Nose: 23
Body: 21
Taste: 20
Finish: 20

James: 84 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81. 66 pts.

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