Recently I noticed a pal of mine(https://originallevity.ca/) had a similar bottle of beer to myself in a picture of his beer cellar, online. He was asking if anyone else had any of the same beer in the comments and I saw a bottle of Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout hiding in the image. I happen to also have that bottle though we aren’t sure if our vintages are similar I suspect mine is from 2015 or 2016. The only marking I could find on the bottle said best before 2017, surely has been a few sleeps since then.
Now as someone who has quite and extensive cellar of all sorts of different beer I can honestly say that when it comes to fresh beer, even higher ABV, the results of ageing are often disappointing especially around or after the five year mark. Now this beer isn’t particularly high ABV, clocking in around 8%, but also contains cranberry juice, cranberries, cocoa nibs and chocolate making the potential for something to have gone wrong much higher. Let’s get into it!
Cork and cage bottle that had almost no pop once opened, not a great sign so far. With an aggressive pour almost no head forms and no head stays for long, beer appears to be nearly completely still.
Nose reveals an oxidized aroma with a hint of dark malt and umami possibly tart berries of some variety but without reading the label I’m not sure I would pick that out.
Tasting leads to the fact that, indeed, this poor beer is completely flat beyond that it is heavily oxidized and and has a distinct dusty flavour that I’m not too keen on. The addition of juice to the beer has left the mouthfeel very thin and does not improve the flavour at this point at all. A hint of medicinal cherry like notes leaves me not too excited for another sip. There may be some chocolate left, but only a hint, and a slight umami note masks the finish.
Unfortunately time has not been kind to this beer but this is not an unusual happening especially with a fresh beer this old. I have never tried this beer fresh so I have no reference to it’s potential but it has been nearly destroyed by aging, given the benefit of the doubt. The bottle said to consume before Feb 03, 2017 I suspect that is sage advice, another sinker for the log.
I knew this would come quickly but I still can’t believe it, the final beer of the advent, meaning it’s also Christmas Eve. Yum! A Black IPA from a young Quebecois brewer called Brasserie Dunham. Glancing at their website it looks like they’re a fairly ambitious brewer with a great selection including a brett saison and several other unique offerings. This beer was really good. Balanced to dark malt the black IPA topped itself with a nice dark head and delightful chocolate and hop aroma. A lively mouthfeel accompanied the rich long lasting flavour of this BLIPA. I have a great respect for the offerings from Quebec and black IPAs seem to be a staple from the province’s breweries and they never cease to impress. Brasserie Dunham is no exception to the quality of Quebec based brewers and I am really excited to taste more of what they have to offer.
CRAFT BEER ADVENT CALENDAR SUMMARY
Thank you to my family for getting this thing for me in the first place as I had given up on getting one because of the demand. Thank you to Craft Beer Imports Canada Inc for organizing the beer and loading up the calendar. While there may not have been as many rarities as I was hoping for initially there were a lot of really exciting offerings from a lot of great brewers around North America. I love getting exposed to different beer and not being able to choose which ones they are takes you out of your comfort zone. Typically I only buy beer from a handful of brewers and getting exposed to new ones I don’t have access to was a real treat. Some were stinkers but that happens with brewing especially after beer has sat in the bottle for a while as was the case with the calendar. But stinkers aside the offerings were solid and I’m especially excited about drinking more from Tap It, Brasserie Dunham, Peak Organic and Nickel Brook. Getting exposed to the new brewers was well worth the price of admission to the calendar, in my opinion, and hopefully CRAFT will be able to bring these beers into Alberta in a more permanent basis. Overall I’m satisfied with the experience and will totally get another one in the future. Merry Christmas and cheers to you and yours from me, The Western Canadian Beer Lover!
Oh yes! Evil Twin Brewing! Low Life! This is probably the best pilsner style beer I’ve ever had. Evil Twin is closely tied to the Danish brewer, Mikkeller. I believe they’re brothers or possibly even twins?! Either way both breweries make some of the best beer in the world. Evil Twin is based out of Boston and hence their inclusion in the North American Advent Calendar despite being owned by Danes.
Oh. My. GOD!
What made this beer so exciting? Well it takes a lot to do something special with a lager/pilnser style beer. Pilsner uses pilsner malts in the brewing process, pilsner malts are exceptionally light roasted malts and so they tend to render less flavour to the drink. Combine the light roasted malts with the bottom fermenting yeast required of the style and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands as a brewer. What’s the challenge? Well, it’s rendering any interesting or dynamic flavour at all into the beer. Ales top ferment, which means when the beer is fermenting out in primary all the lovely yeast is at the top and this tends to give ales a nice yeasty flavour, easily, as the spent yeast has to travel through the entire brew to settle at the bottom. With bottom fermented beer(lager or pilsner) the yeast is already at the bottom so it’s harder to get any interesting yeast profile. The brewer is then left to do crazy hopping or add adjunct sugars to the beer to make it different or interesting. I’m not sure exactly what Evil Twin did here but I can tell you it’s an absolute delight. Fruity, well rounded, well hopped and interesting this beer pours with a great foamy head and wonderful aroma. A dry finish, typical of the style, leaves you wanting another sip. I believe this beer is already available in Alberta please go pick it up and try it as it’s wonderful. Cheers! WCBL.
Another brew from Tap It. I realize now that I get excited by repeat breweries, when they’re good. While this particular American standard session ale(low ABV) would most likely be really great when it’s fresher I found it to be still a solid brew. It has lost some of its hoppy charm but I can taste the potential and I really hope that we get to have Tap It Brewing’s offerings available in 2014 here in Alberta. I am really excited by that. If you’re playing along at home look for Phillips Brewing Bottle Rocket ISA, probably the best session beer I’ve had. Cheers! WCBL.
Peak Organic Hop Noir! I was hoping for another offering from Peak Organic and while I still really want to try their Imperial Red I will have to settle for Hop Noir, poor me. This beer is quite bitter, even for my tastes, but it highlights the bitterness in the black malts with the flavour of the hops. I’m sipping it right now and it’s leaving great lacing on my glass even though it poured without too much head. I am really excited to taste more beer from this Maine, thanks Bob, based brewer. This stuff it really excellent and I’m sure Nelson Brewing can sympathize to how much balls it takes to go organic with your malts and hops. It is so obvious to me how much care has been taken with the creation of this brew, it’s really exceptional. Black malts lend a really great depth to a beer and the hops give that depth longevity as this beer has quite a long finish. I could geek right out on describing this beer but I would implore any newcomer to craft brews to check out a black IPA and see how it tastes. My recommendation today is Dieu Du Ciel Penombre, a brilliant black IPA from Quebec. Cheers! WCBL over and out.
Ok enough with the Newport Storm already! This time it’s some blueberry disaster that would probably only taste good after mowing the lawn on a hot day, problem is I’m up to my eye balls in snow and ice. The one thing I will hand to this beer is the amazing aroma, I have never smelled a beer with such a unique and interesting nose. Unfortunately I did not enjoy anything else about this beer and I’m sorry to say I sunk it. Life it too short to drink bad beer. If you’re playing along at home just grab an Alley Kat Maroon Dragon, that’s what I did. Cheers! WCBL.
Another day, another OK beer. This time it’s a Cream Ale from Cameron’s. I really like their auburn ale but I’m kind of indifferent towards this cream ale. It has a decent head and good lacing but needs a little more character. It’s good beer and it’s been well treated but it just needs a little something more. I think this is definitely a case of my preferences and sometimes a simple, clean beer is awesome but most of the time I’m looking for something more interesting. So there you go. If you’re playing along at home I’d go for a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid. It’s nothing like this beer but you’ll enjoy it, I promise. Cheers! WCBL.