24 Days of Christmas – Day 10

Dang. This one is going to be a quick one tonight guys. It’s a repeat of a brewery we’ve already tried called Back Forty Brewing. I’m kinda disappointed that the advent contains a brewery we’ve already tried but on the upside this Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale is pretty darn good. Nice honey flavour and nicely balanced, quality stuff, not crazy exciting but certainly easy drinking. Cheers to no more repeat breweries in the rest of the calendar! WCBL.

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24 Days of Christmas – Day 9

Yeeee Haaaaa! A Californian IPA my favourite! And one I haven’t heard of or tried, even better! This absolute delight is brought to us by the hard-working men and women at Tap It Brewing located in, I’m sure lovely, San Luis Obispo kinda west central California. As you all know this style is my weakness and when I popped the top on this bad-ass brew I knew I was in for a tasty treat.IMG_1225

Chinese mandarin oranges abound in the nose and a nice chewy body carries a decent amount of hop bitterness, balanced toward the citrus side of things, with a wonderful slight vanilla flavour to round everything out on the malt side. This beer is certainly a gem and I really enjoyed it. Taking my personal bias toward IPAs aside this is a quality brew through and through. It takes some balls to bring an entry to the over crowded IPA segment but Tap It has brought a unique enough twist to this hot style with their subtlety and balance. I think there’s a decent amount of residual sugar that is lending the slightly sweet finish but because of the hoppy character it didn’t displease me at all. Happy Monday indeed! For those of you playing along without a calendar; try looking for Lagunitas Sucks(the orange crush of IPAs), which should be here in February, Deschutes Red Chair(sweeter and balanced to malt) and Phillips ISA(punchy and easy drinking). WCBL over and out.

24 Days of Christmas – Day 8

IMG_1224Alright, Lake of Bays Brewing Company Spark House Red Ale. A red ale is an ale that contains malts that render flavour as well as colour to a brew in this case, red. For example dark crystal malts can lend a red colour to beer and while I’m not sure what malts Lake of Bays used I find it is sometimes difficult to balance exactly what you want with your recipe with head retention, mouth feel, flavour, colour, strength, bitterness etc all being considered in the end product. While I found this offering to be a solid beer it had a funny flavour that I just couldn’t place. I’m not sure if it was the malts used that I’m not particularly fond of but this beer was a pass for me. It wasn’t sink worthy but it wasn’t up to the par set by yesterdays delight. Keeping in mind there are only a few reds that I enjoy. The Parallel 49 collaboration Red Eye comes to mind. Good beer is good, but good beer that brings something unique to the table is better. Let’s hope tomorrow brings something more exciting, happy Sunday night everyone, cheers, WCBL.

24 Days of Christmas – Day 7

Wow! Stillwater Artisanal Existent American Farmhouse Ale. While this particular brett beer is exceptionally well balanced it is quite exciting for the less advanced beer drinkers to try something so different. When I refer to brett beer I am, of course, referring to IMG_1222brettanomyces a type of wild yeast that once exposed to beer creates a very interesting flavour and consumes the sugars, especially complex sugars, in beer slightly differently than regular beer yeast. What does this mean for the drinker? Well it can produce several things, radically different flavours for one including; esters, bananas, berries, grass, horseyness and a wild woodsy type flavour. I suspect this particular beer used different sugar, I tasted molasses, in its processing as well as darker malts to help meld the unusually strong taste brett can render into something more approachable, and it is really quite nice. I personally think this beer is the best of the lot so far so it’s going to get a gold star. For those of you playing along at home I believe Stillwater’s offerings are already here in Edmonton and are available at Sherbrooke Liquor aka my second home. If you want to try some even more exciting brett beers look for Mikkeller’s AK ALIVE or Invasion Farmhouse IPA. Those two beers will show the drinker the extremes of wild yeast. Holiday cheers everyone! WCBL.

24 Days Of Christmas – Day 6

Yes! My Christmas wish from yesterday came true this beer is much better than the day 5 offering. A delightful seasonal from Canmore’s own Grizzly Paw called Moose Knuckle Winter Stout. Touted as a sweet stout this little gem has a good depth to its malty-ness. I was a little worried about the sweetness but found the aftertaste to be more balanced to alcohol, at 6% ABV, and reasonably dry.IMG_1221 When we talk dryness we’re referring to the lack of a lingering aftertaste and while this beer is fairly bold, roasty, with notes of coffee, a cereal like depth and interesting mouth feel it doesn’t linger long once swallowed. This beer arrived out of the advent calendar with a really small, but perfect, amount of carbonation so make sure, again, to pour this one aggressively. If you’re playing along at home without a calendar of your own make sure to check out Nelson Brewing Company Black Heart as it’s quite similar overall and just as wonderful. If you’re in Alberta right now I hope you’re managing to stay warm with some winter seasonals cheers! WCBL.

24 Days of Christmas – Day 5

Well today we have our first disappointment in my eyes. But such is the whim of the randomness of beer chosen by someone else. They can’t all be winners and while this beer is certainly better than any offering from AB-InBev it’s a little lack-lustre compared to the majority of the craft beer scene. This beer comes from Rhode Island brewers called Coastal Extreme Brewing Company. Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale is slightly sweet, slightly cereal like and a tad watery. It is OK at best. Tomorrow had better be awesome. Cheers!P1120148

24 Days Of Christmas – Day 4

Awesome, Yukon Brewing. Just so you all know I wake up in the morning and pull my new beer out of my advent calendar and put it in the fridge then I have to dream about it all day until I get home. This time I was particularly excited as I was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, home of Yukon Brewing, and I had not tried this offering before but as I pulled open the door on the calendar I knew exactly what it was just by the top of the cap. Yukon Brewing has a fairly modest mission statement which is, essentially, to brew beers that are more modest and approachable with a craft sense and dedication to quality. This motto has treated them really well and the day 4 beer is a decent departure from their modest goals.IMG_1219

’39 1/2 Foot Pole’ is the name of the beer(from the grinch song as it has the grinch stealing the north pole on the label) and it is labelled as a black currant ale. It is higher in ABV at 6.7% and while that’s not a guarantee of a more interesting beer I believe in this case it was. Pour it aggressively if you want any head this beer is perfectly carbonated but it only held a head for a short time, just long enough to take a picture and have a few sips. This beer pours a lovely golden brown and would be clear but mine was not pulled out of the fridge soon enough and has a little chill on it still. Let’s talk a little again about additives. I’m not sure the exact process used in creating this beer but it tasted brilliant. The over all flavour was well balanced and juicy I’m sure in a blind taste test I could tell something was added to it and I bet I would say berries but I could never tell what one, regardless it really added to the overall roundness of the flavour and the finish was reasonably long and had a lingering berry like after taste, absolutely wonderful. Can’t wait for tomorrow! WCBL out.

24 Days of Christmas – Day 3

Cucapá Obscura. Hmmm Mexican craft beer. The description on the website has me really excited to try this beer. It was a “2007 world beer champion” finishing with 91pts in its category/style American-Style Brown Ale. There currently is a trend in craft brewing towards lower ABV and higher drink-ability and while I am certainly a big beer lover it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t or couldn’t enjoy a easier drinking ale. IMG_0271

While Obscura is light in ABV at 4.8% it brings a lot to the table flavour wise. It’s well balanced and drier but has enough complexity to not leave you bored and is exceptionally refreshing. I actually wanted another of these so we’ll note that for later into the calendar and use it as a benchmark. I’m not sure exactly what I would compare this beer too I honestly don’t drink too many brown ales but I really enjoyed Obscura so I may have to explore this style more. Hats off to Cucapá at any rate hopefully we get to see more of their stuff in Canada soon. WCBL out.

24 Days of Christmas – Day 2

Back Forty Brewing Company is located in Gadsden, Alabama. The mission statement is to essentially bring the flavours of craft beer to the southern states. Their Freckle Belly IPA was just made available to us here in Alberta this year and it’s a fairly solid offering. The second beer in the calendar is their Kudzu Porter. The bottle claims that fresh hops were used in the production of the beer. I wasn’t sure if that meant wet hops or dried hops so I contacted Back Forty(Hey Tripp!) to confirm they use fresh dried hops, centennial to be precise, my favourite variety. IMG_1218Mmmmmm. This is quite a lovely, milder porter with a profile rounded to the hop side of things but certainly not lacking in dynamic maltyness. I would describe this beer as an easy drinking porter but certainly a quality one. It handles an aggressive pour well so don’t be shy, pour to the centre of your glass and let the whole thing fly. I think you may be able to find this in Edmonton as their IPA is here already but if you can’t pick up Fuller’s Porter it’s a UK import that is reasonably comparable to Kudzu if a little darker. Cheers from the WCBL.

Out Of My Element aka 24 Days Of Christmas!

That’s right beer lovers! WCBL coming at you loud and clear from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This is going to be a very special month for us all as my lovely spouse has picked me up the Craft Beer Advent Calendar. That means 24 days of WCBL updates and thoughts on some beers currently unavailable here in Alberta. I’m going to make comparisons to currently available brews so that those of you who don’t have calendars can play along at home.P1120054Craft Beer Importers Canada has put together this lovely package and I think that the best part of it is I don’t get to choose what’s in it. I’m forced to drink outside of my comfort zone with the added bonus that it’s likely I haven’t tried many of the beers and probably don’t know many of the breweries. I’ll try to fill you guys in on any interesting info about both as well as my usual thoughts. I’ll have my morning coffee then let’s get drinking.Coffee

I have been on a porter kick for a while now and I have to say I find them very satisfying, especially in the winter. Now that Deschutes Brewing is available here in Alberta pretty much every craft beer lover has to take a taste of Black Butte Porter. It is certainly a solid defact-o porter that will give you a great basis on which to judge every porter you drink moving forward and most will pale in comparison.

P1120065The first beer of the calendar is of course a porter brewed by Nickel Brook Brewery out in Ontario. Checking their site shows me they’re pretty pumped about making beer and they have put a lot of expensive ingredients into this particular beer including; four malts, wheat, maple syrup and two varieties of hops for 6% ABV and 27 IBUs. Now one of the challenges with brewing is getting any interesting sugars used in primary to render any flavour into the end product. Yeast, as we know, is very good at converting sugar into alcohol. During that process it also tends to rend most of the unique flavour out of the priming sugar but when treated properly it leaves the beer with a very interesting and unique nose that will taste different in comparison to default dextrose. In the case of this Maple Porter it has a very distinct nose of dark maple flavour that almost immediately gets overtaken by a brilliantly dark, rich malt character(which is an essential of the porter style). Hops are subtle and balance out the malts leaving a drier finish with hardly any lingering sweetness.yeast Look at the residual yeast left in my glass, a sign that the guys and gals at Nickel Brook spent some time with this one and it must have fermented a little on its way out west as it had really lively carbonation.

I found this beer to be an amazing start to the calendar and for those of you playing along at home I recommend getting Wild Rose Cherry Porter as another fine example of porter.