BEER MONDAY REVIEW: Sierra Nevada – 2013 Bigfoot Barleywine Styled Ale

20140328-185457.jpgSierra Nevada is one of the original American craft brewers. Located in Chico, California, they have been at the forefront of the craft beer revolution in the US. Founded in 1979 by Ken Grossman, they continue to blaze a trail for craft brewers around the world.

About Bigfoot from the brewers website:
“Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle.”

Appearance
Deep amber with a thin, but creamy tan head. A bit cloudy/hazy.

Aroma
Sweet with citrus note. No alcohol to speak of even know its more than 9%. Toffee and caramel.

Taste
Sweet malt and caramel with the balance towards the hop bitterness. Hops, but no more then I was expecting. Citrus, resin, grapefruit. Some alcohol notes.

Mouthfeel
Medium-full body with a moderate carbonation.

Overall
You probably wont drink many of these in a row (or you may fall over – be warned), but very good. Aged a bit since the first bottle I had and the hops have faded a bit (this bottle is 6 month a drinking time). Better as it warms slightly. Though the hops are fading, its not becoming overly sweet and it still very drinkable. It should continue to age well for a long time.

82/100

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BEER MONDAY REVIEW: Palm – Amber Ale

20140311-125507.jpgConsistently one of the best selling beers in Europe, Palm (Palm Speciale, as it’s know in Europe) is produced in Steenhuffle, Belgium by Palm Breweries. This is an amber ale made from English hops, French barley, and Belgian yeast.

Appearance
Amber in colour and crystal clear. Just a slight head that fades out pretty quickly.

Aroma
Aroma of malt and fruit. There is some notes of corn and a bit of earthy hops (English hop quality).

Taste
The taste is a bit more lager-like then I was expecting. A bit tart, sort of like apple cider. There’s a good presence of minerals coming through. Also, metallic notes and notes of leather and apple juice. Slight malt flavour.

Mouthfeel
Light bodied. The tartness comes though as a bit prickly on the tongue. Theres also a bit of oiliness to the mouthfeel.

Overall
Not exactly what I was expecting, but easy enough to drink and has many of the quality of lagers from Europe. Its a bit one-dimensional, but as an alternative to a pale lager, this would do nicely.

70/100

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BEER MONDAY REVIEW: Picaroons – Timber Hog

20140316-121802.jpgHappy St. Patrick’s Day! In honour of the day it’s a Dry Irish Stout review, but this ones not from Ireland, but comes from across the pond out of New Brunswick. Picaroons Traditional Ales, located in Fredericton, NB, crafts their beers in small 15 hectolitre batches, giving each batch it’s own unique character.

Timber Hog is described on the website as: “The classic Irish-style dry stout is the basic background of this aromatic ebony elixir but deviations may occur from batch to batch as we improvisationally wander through variations on the theme.”

Here’s what I thought:

Appearance
Dark black with faint hints of ruby on the edges when put up to a light. Very slight beige head that’s not long lasting.

Aroma
Not a strong aroma. Has some malt, but is mainly dark roasted coffee.

Taste
Deep roasted flavour. Black coffee with a slight bit of hops. Molasses, and burnt sugar with dark fruity notes and just a hint of leather. Nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel
Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Slick in a good way. Drinks very nice.

Overall
Very drinkable. Roasty and dry, for sure, but it all adds up to a nice drink. As it warms up slightly a bit more of the fruitiness comes out and it becomes even more drinkable. Excellent example of the style.

80/100

A Little Bit of Irish For You

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we start to think of some rather dark ale to celebrate with – most commonly the one with a harp on the bottle. When Arthur Guinness set up his brewery in 1759 he was brewing standard ale of the day, but it was when he switched to Porter production that things took off. But what about other Irish beers to celebrate ol’ St. Patrick?

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imageBeamish Stout

Dark and bitter, this stout is one of the big three in Ireland, being brewed since 1792. Long lasting head, lots of roast, and coffee. An excellent beer.

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Murphy’s Irish Stout

Nuttier and more chocolatey than other stouts, this dark drink with hints of espresso would be great as desert or any other time.

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Kilkenny Irish Cream All

Bright redish-brown with a beige head, this ale is smooth and well balanced. Easy drinking and a treat to have.

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Murphy’s Irish Red

Bronze in colour with fruity and carmel notes, this red ale finishes crips and dry. Best followed by another.

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Smithwick’s Irish Ale

Brewed on the site of an Abbey, this beautifully amber ale is balanced smooth and refreshing.

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O’Hara’s Celtic Stout

Brewed in an ancient Celtic tradition with only barley, water, yeast, and hops it pours dark burgundy and is roasty and creamy.

BEER MONDAY REVIEW: Affligem – Blonde

20140310-114950.jpgAffligem Brouwerij is an Abbey brewery in Opwijk, Belgium (think monks chanting as they brew the beer and you’d be pretty close). Founded in 1074 by Benedictine monks it is the oldest abbey in Flanders. The brewery is now 95% owned by Heineken (since 2001) which has greatly helped with export and production.

Appearance
Golden orange in colour. Cloudy, but no sediment to speak of. Pours with a big, fluffy, white head that lasts until the end. Pretty decent lacing as you’d expect.

Aroma
First thing is the sweetness in the aroma with notes of pear and apple that fades to a slightly bitter and dried fruit aroma. There’s also some malt and grass with a slight hint of alcohol. Some floral notes from the hops.

Taste
The taste is smooth with some spice and clove. The classic Belgian yeast flavours come through with fruity and banana notes. There are some herbal qualities with a lingering lemon peel flavour on the tongue. Slightly sweet, but a dry finish.

Mouthfeel
Medium mouthfeel with a good level of carbonation. Well balanced with a very slight oily finish, or possibly an impression of an oily finish coming from the lemon peel flavour.

Overall
Impressive. Easy drinking and balanced all around. Nothing about this beer turns me off. Would be great on a cold day as a warmer, but would be nice and refreshing on a hot summers day as well.

88/100

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REVIEW: Mongozo – Premium Pilsner: Gluten-free, Fairtrade, Organinc

20140301-154245.jpgMany people avoid gluten whether it’s by choice or due to health reasons, but is this any reason to avoid good beer? Belgian brewery, Mongozo, has a line of gluten-free beers for people who are looking to stay away from gluten, but still would like to have a cold one. Their Premium Pilsner is gluten-free, but also certified fair trade and organic.

Here’s what Mongozo’s website says:

“Mongozo has developed a gluten-free lager, making it possible for people on a gluten-free diet to enjoy drinking beer. The brewing process for obtaining a gluten-free beer can vary, and in the case of Mongozo Premium Pilsner it involves the gluten being removed from the beer. This innovative technique ensures that the beer retains its lager flavour. A renowned laboratory checks each batch of beer brewed for the presence of gluten. The beer is then only sold if less than 10 ppm of gluten is detected and it can therefore be labelled as gluten-free. Mongozo Premium Pilsner is Certisys-certified for the use of certified-organic barley malt, rice and hops. The system of checks in place for the organic sector guarantees that products are genuinely organic. The approved label used by Mongozo is a European label issued by the Belgian Certisys inspection and certification body.”

I’ll admit, avoiding gluten isn’t high on my list of things to do and this would be my first gluten-free beer, so I can’t compare it to thers, but I can compare it to other pilsner beers.

Appearance
Perfectly clear, golden yellow, with a slight white head. Some lacing.

Aroma
Pretty typical lager aroma with a touch of sulphur and malt. No real hop aroma.

Taste
Nice balance with malt and hops. The hop flavour is mild, but in good contrast with the malt sweetness. The bitterness is a bit rough, but not over powering. Pretty easy drinking.

Mouthfeel
Light with good carbonation levels.

Overall
Overall this is not a bad beer, a fairly run-of-the-mill pilsner, nothing to turn me off from it. Having never had any other gluten-free beers, I can only imagine that this one would stack up nicely to most of the market.

75/100