Thursday, 5 January 2017

the 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 20: Market Pils Kensington Brewery

Beer # 315 Market Pils


Brewery: Kensington Brewing Company

Type: Contract brewery     Est.: 2011
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Beer Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.7%      IBU: 35
Format: Aluminium Can  Size:  473 ml
Cost: $2.95 CAD     Purchased At: LCBO

Twitter: @DrinkGoodBeer



Kensington is one of those breweries that one wishes they had a bricks and mortar location because I would just love to go soak up some Kensington Market atmosphere until they decided to throw me out. Fish-Eye PA one of their other brews is a big favourite of mine as is Augusta Ale. It seems that with their foray into the area of Pilsners has been equally successful.

Onto our beer...

Pours a translucent light gold with a massive white head made up of small and medium bubbles. Aroma is a spicy mix of malt, citrus, and flint. light hints of grassy hops, and some light honey. First sip is bright effervescent citrus and hops. Nice dry mineral character. Beer is very clean with a light and airy mouthfeel. Aeration brings out the maltiness, and green grassy hops.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 


Cost: 5/6 
PASS

Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Re-Order:  6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Experience: 5/6 PASS
Christmas Cheer: 5/6 PASS

Final Thoughts:


I don't like to rave about pilsners, because I generally don't like them. They tend to be watery and bland; seemingly meant to be drunk as cold as possible to deliver alcohol as quickly as possible. This beer embodies nothing of those characteristics. This is a complex, flavourful, well crafted, and near perfectly executed pilsner. If you are on the fence or know someone who is, about making that final kick off of Macro Brewery lager swill; this is the beer to do it with. Pop one of these in the hands of that friend who won't put down the "Bud" and you should spark a craft beer revolution. Run... do not walk... to your nearest LCBO, or better beer bar and put one of these in your hand, and learn what a good pilsner tastes like



Cheers


CJT


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Sunday, 1 January 2017

The 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 19: Bryggmästarens


Beer # 316 Bryggmästarens 


Brewery: Åbro Bryggeri

Type: Independant National brewery     Est.: 1856
Location: Vimmerby, Sweden
Beer Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 5.7%      IBU: ?
Format: Aluminum Can  Size: 500 ml
Cost: $2.35 CAD     Purchased At: LCBO

Twitter: @AbroBryggeri (In Swedish)


I'm not a huge lager fan, but it seems everywhere you turn today craft breweries are putting their spin on the style. Initially, I imagine they wanted to distance themselves from the Macro breweries, who brewed almost exclusively watered down pilsners and lagers specially designed to have as much flavour removed from them as possible. Beers that are meant to be drunk frost-bitten cold as quickly as possible. Now I think that craft breweries are brewing them to lure new customers away from the large labels. Reel them in on a lager and then sell them the Quadruple IPA, single varietal hop picked by virgins under a full moon. Don't worry I'm not getting cynical, I already drank the kool-aid... I love my weird beers, actually the crazier the story behind the beer the more I need it. But I can definitely understand the need for a gateway for the large portion of beer consumers, who are use to nothing more than alcoholic water. For some of us that gateway was a progression over time, an internal, flavourful journey, for a lot of people I see at the breweries, it's "Give me something that tastes like Bud..." But I fear not, the movement back to good beer is gaining momentum and speed. I see a lot more people, I would have never expected to be in a craft brewery, trying them out

Tonight's beer is a lager from Sweden. Scandinavia, and Europe are kind of the exception when it comes to Lagers. While there are still a lot of lagers that are brewed specifically to be alcohol deliver systems, They do take pride and care in their bottom fermented beverages, unlike the Macros do here in North America. There you can still find small batch, hand crafted Lagers.

Let's Try one...

Pours a rich golden colour with a short white head made ups of small bubbles. Aroma is sweet and grainy with hints of mineral and citrus. First sip just us some deeper malt complexity with a good sweetness. Bready and yeasty notes dominate with a nice dry mineral finish. Aeration is more of the same bread yeast mineral and citrus.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 


Cost: 5/6 
PASS

Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 5/6 PASS
Re-Order:  5/6  PASS
Experience: 5/6 PASS
Christmas Cheer: 5/6 PASS


Final Thoughts:


For a European lager, this was quite good, bright crisp and mineral. You could tell the beer was made from good water. Not just de-chlorinated tap water. Still lagers are not going to be my favourite, but I could certainly drink this one again. Give it a shot.

Cheers


CJT


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Saturday, 24 December 2016

The 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 18: DAMMIT!

DAMMIT!

This draft got accidentally deleted... and it was a good one too...

I will have to go get another can of the beer and redo the post...

Stay tuned

CJT...

The 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 17: Equilibrium ESB, Nickel Brook


Beer # 315 Equilibrium ESB



Brewery: Nickel Brook Brewing Company

Type: Independent Microbrewery     Est.: 1992
Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Beer Style: ESB
ABV: 5.5%      IBU: 34
Format: Aluminium Can  Size:  473 ml
Cost: $2.90 CAD     Purchased At: LCBO

Twitter: @NickelBrookBeer



Getting down to the crunch... Everyone have their shopping done yet? If anyone needs a hint for me, I'm rather partial to beer. Especially ESBs. Maybe it's the old british blood sloshing around inside me but a good English style beer is a joy to behold. and tonight... I be-holding this beer. Nickel Brook certainly has made a name for themselves in the Bitters game, well they should as they grew out of a company called "Better Bitters." Their hoppy beers are very much on point and I'm sure this one will be no exception.

Onto our beer..,

Pours a dark amber with a short off-white head made up of small bubbles. Nose is a spicy caramel with funky medicinal hops and a slight  marijuana scent. First sip is caramel and biscuit with a good hit of carbonation. Light fruit in the back ground, some raisin and currants, mild sweetness. Aeration is wheaty and bready, with hints of biscotti.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 


Cost: 5/6 
PASS

Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 5/6 PASS
Re-Order:  5/6  PASS
Experience: 5/6 PASS
Christmas Cheer: 5/6 PASS

Final Thoughts:


Another great ESB. I can feel the echoes of a solid British beer in there. The only thing I can lament about is, that beer here in Canada is such a different experience to England and the UK. The predominance of the cask ale, and correct serving temperatures for ales is vital to the British beer experience, So very hard to capture in a can. Perhaps we really need a cask ale festival in Canada... I know I would go. But, I digress. Short of hopping a flight to London, this is a great way to experience a well put together ESB... go get one.

Cheers


CJT


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Thursday, 22 December 2016

The 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 16: Northern Logger, Sleeping Giant

Beer # 314 Northern Logger


Brewery: Sleeping Giant Brewing Company

Type: Independent Microbrewery     Est.: 2012
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Beer Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.9%      IBU: 17
Format: Aluminium Can  Size:  473 ml
Cost: $2.90 CAD     Purchased At: LCBO

Twitter: @Sleepgiantbrew


I have been following Sleeping Giant brewery for quite some time. I was interested in them because when they opened there was not much going on in the craft beer scene farther North than Sudbury or North Bay. To get some prospective (because even Ontarians forget how big this province is sometimes) I live in Muskoka which is about 3 to 4 hours drive to the US border with New York State. Toronto is a scant 2 hours away. North Bay is 2 hours North, Sudbury a healthy 3 hours. Thunder bay is 13 hours drive. That's a solid non-stop 13 hours of driving. Over 1200 kilometres. And that is only two thirds of the way to the Manitoba/Ontario Border. which is another 6 or so hours further up the highway. Now, the Far North, as we in the South like to call it, is starting to come alive with breweries, there is Lake of the Woods in Kenora (almost at the Manitoba Border), there are breweries opening or planned in Sault Ste Marie: Outspoken, and Soo Falls. Compass Brewery is opening in Timmins. Still nothing like down here in the southern third of the province... but they are catching up.

Back to Sleeping Giant. As I said it is in Thunder Bay which is an historic logging and mining town. It is quite famous among us rock hounds for being the source of some of the most beautiful amethysts in Ontario. There are pick you own amethyst parks in Thunder Bay, Reasons why I want to go back... well that and BEER! Thunder Bay is also famous as it was a base for many of the CPR Painters and The Group of Seven as they painted Northern Ontario. Lake Superior was a favourite subject for many of Canada's earliest and most famous painters. Sleeping Giant takes its name from a provincial park that has a most unusual land formation. The sleeping Giant rock formation is a collection of mesas and sills that when viewed from a certain angle resemble a giant lying on his back, sleeping.


The cliffs are some of the tallest in Ontario reaching 250 metres (820 feet) in height. The torso is the high point standing an impressive 563 metres (1847 feet) 10 metres taller than the CN Tower.

Onto our beer for tonight...

Pours a deep, clear, gold  with a short off-white head made up of small bubbles. Aroma is slightly lemon, biscutty, hint of nuts and a little dried fruit. Breadiness continues on the first sip , warm nutty and toasty. Strong mineral quality. Aeration brings out some deeper hops flavours, some bitter greens and hints of almonds.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 


Cost: 5/6 
PASS

Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 5/6 PASS
Re-Order:  5/6  PASS
Experience: 5/6 PASS
Christmas Cheer: 5/6 PASS

Final Thoughts:


Lovely little beer. I did however pick up some tinny notes from the can, I would prefer to try this again on draught. Perhaps I do need to make that trip back up to Thunder Bay after all. They also have a Pale ale in cans here at the LCBO, I will try and get that for the New Year. I look forward to trying more of their brews, preferably in the sight of its namesake giant.

Cheers


CJT


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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 15: Charles Henri Amber Ale, Les 2 Frères

Beer # 313 Charles Henri Amber Ale 

Brewery: Brasserie Les 2 Frères

Type: Independent Microbrewery     Est.: 2006
Location: Terre Bonne, Quebec, Canada
Beer Style: Amber Ale 
ABV: 6.2%      IBU: 31
Format: Crown Capped Brown Glass Bottle  Size: 500 ml
Cost: $3.95 CAD     Purchased At: The Beer Store

Twitter: @BrassLes2Freres


Another trip to Quebec to this brewery I just discovered for myself. I am a big fan of Quebec beers. It has actually been way too long since I was in the Belle Province. I need to plan a trip back sometime soon. They of course are undergoing the same sort of craft beer explosion that is happening here in Ontario, BC Alberta and to a lesser extent the prairies. Quebec treats it's culture different then they do in the rest of the country. My last few trips there was so much to discover, with wineries, cheese makers brewers and cider houses. Quebec actively promotes the "little guy"  with road signs, maps, and culture routes. Ontario has just started to follow suit, as I am hoping the rest of the country is too. 

Onto our beer tonight...

Pours a lovely light amber with a large fluffy off-white head made up of small and medium bubbles. Citrus, caramel, and mineral dominate the nose, with light hints of green hops following. First sip is bright fruity, lychee, citrus, sweet tropical fruit, hints of coconut, and a crisp mineral quality. Flavour slowly slides down into a pool of caramel and vanilla, more subtle green hops, and some touches of dandelion and honey. As it warms more fruit comes to the party, apples and pears, plus a slight hint of raisin. A touch sticky on the lips, reminds me of a Tokaji dessert wine. Aeration sparks up some more mineral and flintiness, and brings out a light breadiness. Just enough to remind you that this is in fact a beer, and not a fine wine. Flavour finished with some bitter, and mustard greens.


Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 


Cost: 6/6 
EXCEPTIONAL

Colour: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Beer Style: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Re-Order:  6/6  EXCEPTIONAL
Experience: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL
Christmas Cheer: 6/6 EXCEPTIONAL

Final Thoughts:


Stellar. I think this is by far the best Amber ale I have ever tried. So flavourful. This is what ales should taste like. Bursting with fruity flavours, thirst quenching, satisfying. It is truly like a dessert wine. I would not have a problem pairing this with a dessert, or a long fire lit evening in a cabin in the Quebec woods. You should pair this beer with a glass... you will thank me.


Cheers


CJT


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The 2-4 Beers of Christmas Day 14: Hanlan's Point Coconut Coffee Porter Great Lakes Brewery

Beer # 312 Hanlan's Point Coconut Coffee Porter 

Tank Ten Series, Collaboration with Bar Hop Bar


Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Company

Type: Independent Microbrewery     Est.: 1987
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Beer Style: Flavoured Porter
ABV: 6.5%      IBU: 19
Format: Crown Capped Brown Glass Bottle  Size: 650 ml
Cost: $7.95 CAD     Purchased At: LCBO

Twitter: @GreatLakesBeer

Another Hard working brewery Toronto's Great Lakes Brewing company has been with us since 1987. Still the reigning champ of the best Brewery Tour I have ever had (and I met Jim Koch at Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston...). They are busy, busy bees down at Great Lakes. The list of beers they produce in a year is staggering, and most of them only the die hard beer nerds hear about as they made incredible one offs that only show up at festivals, and select beer bars in and around Toronto.

Always good for a punny label or funky artwork, especially in their Tank Ten series, tonight's beer is no exception.  For those of you who are not in the know, Hanlan's Point is a beach on the Toronto Islands. They are a small collection of sand bars that are home to some old homes and cottages, a Yacht Club, an amusement park called "Centreville" (On Centre Island... no less) Owned by the Beasley Family for umpteen years. The Beasley's are actually old family acquaintances of my Father's. And of course Hanlan's Point. Hanlan's Point is named after famous Toronto world champion rower Ned Hanlan, and was officially dedicated in 1882. However the beach became notorious for another reason. It was isolated on the island and did not face the mainland so there were no clear sight lines. So for many years, Hanlan's point was Toronto's only "unnofficial" Clothing optional beach. That all changed in in 1999 when Toronto decided to start a pilot project to evaluate the merit of making Halan's point official. 0n March 17 2002, (St. Patrick's day no less...) Hanalan's Point was giving official Status as Canada's second public clothing optional Beach (Wreck Beach in Vancouver is number one). Yes... This does explain our rather frigid looking sunbather on the bottle. Other than that... why they chose Hanlan's Point for the name of this beer... I am at a loss. I just drink the beer I can't always understand it.

Tonight's beer is a coconut and coffee flavour porter, and was designed in collaboration with Bar Hop Bar of Toronto.

Let's dive in...

Pours a very dark Chestnut with a tan head made up small bubbles.Aroma is fresh roasted coffee, slightly smoky, hints of wood shavings, some hay and a slight nuttiness.First sip gives us all the coffee the nose promised and the coconut is limited to a subtle sweetness in the background. Reminds me of Vietnamese coffee with a little bit of condensed milk stirred into it. Mouth feel is creamy and full, slightly fatty and  rich like I've just tasted some cream. Finish is where the toasted coconut pops up at the end of the coffee's long bitter finish. Lips are sticky like they are covered in roasted marshmallows. Aeration froths the beer like whipped cream and gives us a nutty roasted finish.

Impressions: Fail, So-so, Pass, Exceptional 


Cost: 5/6 
PASS

Colour: 5/6 PASS
Beer Style: 5/6 PASS
Re-Order:  5/6  PASS
Experience: 5/6 PASS
Christmas Cheer: 5/6 PASS

Final Thoughts:


A pretty good beer despite the fact that I am not a coconut fan. The coconut was quite subtle, coming in at the end more as a feeling rather than a taste. Definitely if you can find this one try it out. I'm sure it will pop up again. (I actually had this bottle on hand for a while so it is currently de-listed). But if you can't find this, you won't go wrong trying any of Great Lake's Tank Ten series.

Cheers


CJT


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