Category Archives: review

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel – Aprhodisiaque

I picked up this American stout from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel (St-Jérôme, Quebec) at Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax in December, and actually managed to save it for a couple of months before I sampled (which is something of a record for me). Generally, I don’t get too excited about stouts (I’m more of an IPA or amber guy) but I’ve had enough good Dieu du Ciel beers to know that any style from them is a safe choice.

From the brewery: Black ale with aromas and flavours of vanilla, dark chocolate, bourbon and roasted malt. The vanilla and cocoa marry nicely, without out-competing each other, to produce a surprisingly well balanced beer. This beer is mildly hoppy, but the cocoa introduces a touch of bitterness. Its colour may be intimidating, but it is a very smooth beer within reach of most beer drinkers. This highly appreciated dessert beer is brewed with organic fair-trade cocoa and first rate vanilla beans.

Appearance: Black as coffee in the glass, with lively carbonation and a slight off-white head. Stubborn lacing.

Aroma: Big roasty nose of vanilla bean, dark chocolate and creamy malt. 

Taste: The taste delivers what the aromas promised. This is a beautiful, rich stout—tastes like fresh baked brownies with creamy dark chocolate icing. Just a hint of roasted malt. Sweet without being cloying; elegantly balanced. 

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, slight bitterness on the tongue to cut through the sweetness. Medium body.

Overall: Holy smokes. This is the best stout I’ve ever tasted.There are so many sweet, tantalizing flavours going on, all in well balanced harmony. After reading my enthusiastic notes a few days after tasting, I decided to sample another bottle, thinking I might dial my praise back a bit. I ended up raising the score. It’s sweet and tasty, but so well crafted that you could drink it all night. Dieu du Ciel is one of Canada’s best breweries, and this is one of its best beers. It’s a must-try.

95/100

You can find Brasserie Dieu du Ciel on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.

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Boxing Rock – The Next Chapter

IMG_0016Located on Nova Scotia’s South Shore in the town of Shelburne, Boxing Rock Brewing Co. has made quite a name for itself. The Next Chapter was brewed using New Brunswick grown malt and in collaborate with Andrew “Esty” Estabrooks (former head brewer with Picaroons Traditional Ales of Fredericton, NB) as their first release for the New Brunswick market. This India Pale Ale is made with a healthy dose of rye added to the malt bill.

Appearance: Dark red-orange with ruby hues. Moderate amount of off-white head.

Aroma: Bright hop aroma with lots of citrus and hints of pine and early spring grass. Some malt coming through with a nice bready note. Sight spicy aroma.

Taste: Wonderful hit of hops right up front followed by a firm, but not overwhelming, bitterness. The first taste of the hops is of citrus, but quickly becomes resin and dank, with it fading back to citrus peel (grapefruit and lime). The bitterness lingers on the palate begging for another drink. There is a bit of malt, enough to hold up the bitterness, with a subtle spicy flavour from the rye.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is moderate as expected and it has a medium body. There is a very slight oiliness, probably from the hop load or maybe the rye.

Overall: Very drinkable. Perfectly put together with a great use of hops and malt. All the flavours work together to make a great drinking experience. This is one beer (like all the others I had from this brewery) I hope to enjoy more of.

88/90

You can find Boxing Rock on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Fredericton Craft Beer Festival 2015 Wrap-up

479098_384398868319932_1841047704_oLast Saturday (March 7), Matt and Trevor joined hundreds of other craft-beer lovers at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. Simply put, it was a great event. The location, layout, and staff and volunteers were wonderful. The simple things like dump and water stations were plentiful and well positioned. Even the attendees were well behaved, with most of them obviously there for craft beer and not a marathon of pounding beer 4 ounces at a time. We’re already making plans to return for the 2016 editions. We raise our glasses to the organizers and staff and can’t wait to see how the rest of the beer fest season compares.

Matt’s Top Five Beers (in no particular order)

Bad Apple BrewhouseIMG_0082 (Somerset, Nova Scotia) Mosaic Double IPA: Big, but balanced with an aggressive pine nose that caries into the flavour along with some citrus and dank.

Big Spruce Brewing (Baddeck, Nova Scotia) UnRYEvaled Chocolate Rye IPA: Slight roast/chocolate, and a bit of spice, but the hops are the showcase.

Big Tide Brewing (Saint John, New Brunswick) Bucht Bock: Malty without being too sweet like some bocks can be. This would be drinkable (and dangerous) by the litre.

Barnone Brewing (Rose Valley, Prince Edward Island) IPA: Fresh and hoppy without being over the top. An easy drinking, well made beer.

Celtic Knot Brewing (Riverview, New Brunswick) Dubh Loki Black IPA: First beer at the festival, and I didn’t go wrong. A bit of roast, but smooth and hoppy.IMG_2623

Trevor’s Top Five Beers (in no particular order)

Garrison Brewing (Halifax, Nova Scotia) In Session ISA: Garrison just released this new session ale at the Savour Food & Wine Festival in Halifax last week, so I was delighted to get another chance to sample it in Fredericton. Low-alcohol and super hoppy, it’s proof that a session ale can have big flavours. This one is going to be popular.

Red RoverIMG_0085 (Fredericton, New Brunswick) Winter Blues Cider: I’m a sucker for a craft cider, so I was really looking forward to sampling from Red Rover, and this tart, spicy cider far exceeded my expectations.

Le Trou Du Diable (Shawinigan, Quebec) Dubaï Pillée: A weird and wonderful DIPA, this starts with smacks of fruit and wildflowers, before turning dank, funky and hoppy.

Barnone Brewing (Rose Valley, Prince Edward Island) Pale Ale: There were a lot of pale ales at the festival, and this was the best by a country mile—a nice nose of fresh hay, slight malts and hops, perfectly balanced; refreshing and delicious.

Hammond River Brewing (Quispamsis, New Brunswick) Breakfast Stout: My unrestrained Untappd review called this a “pretty well perfect” stout and I stand by that. Flavours of bacon and milk chocolate, rich without being boozy—the best stout I had all night.

IMG_0094Best Brewery of the Festival

We actually intended to give you two different picks here, but it turns out we (Matt and Trevor) both picked the same brewery, and neither of us was willing to budge. Our unanimous pick for the Best Brewery of the Festival is Prince Edward Island’s Barnone Brewing. We liked every beer we had from them, and despite our commitment to sample as many different breweries as possible, we just kept going back to them for more. “The three beers I had from them make my top ten: IPA, Pale Ale, and Sessions IPA,” says Matt. “All balanced, flavourful, and well made. I can’t wait to start seeing these beers in a store nearby soon.”

Were you at the Festival? What were your favourites?

Maine Beer Co. – Zoe

Maine is right next door to Atlantic Canada, but you rarely find the Maine Beer Company’s brews on offer here. I’ve sampled them a couple times on trips stateside, so when a friend recently visited New
England, I was quick to place an order for the brewer’s acclaimed Zoe
amber ale (courtesy of the Craft Beer Cellar in Newton, Massachusetts.)

IMG_2525From the brewery: Our take on an American amber ale. Complex malt bill delivers notes of dark raisin, chocolate and biscuit. Copious additions of American hops yield notes of pine and citrus.

Appearance: A perfect amber hue in the glass, with a thick and persistent tan head. Lovely, lingering lacing.

Aroma: A big smack of spruce on the nose, with hints of lemongrass and roast nuts.

Taste: The hops are far subtler than the nose suggests—starts strong, but then gives way to subtle flavours of brown sugar and lemon zest. Perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Lively mouthfeel, a bit sticky, with average carbonation.

Overall: This is one of my favourite reds, period. It’s the standard I’m comparing all other reds to now. It’s well crafted, perfectly balanced and would pair beautifully with fried haddock and chips.

90/100

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.

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Le Trou du Diable – MacTavish In Memoriam

IMG_2526Shawinigan’s Le Trou du Diable is one of the pillars of Quebec’s acclaimed craft-beer scene, so I was thrilled to discover Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax offers a wide selection of its beers. I was in the store loading up on a heavy winter supply of stouts, porters and strong Belgian ales, when a helpful staff members suggested I balance things out Le Trou de Diable’s MacTavish In Memoriam APA. He assured me it would impress me. I was sceptical; I’ve had some good American pale ales over the years, but most underwhelm me—just a palate cleanser before I go on to a DIPA or something. But the team at Bishop’s never steer me wrong, so I took the advice.

From the brewery: D’un bel orange ambré, la MacTavish s’écoule inéluctablement du verre laissant comme unique trace une belle dentelle de Bruges. Alors que quelques bulles s’échappent du liquide, des effluves de houblon vert, de terre ancestrale et d’épices se mélangent aux traditionnels parfums de noisette et de caramel des ales anglaises. En bouche, fraîcheur et acidité s’accordent aux saveurs maltées de biscuit et de caramel. Le houblon laisse alors une bonne amertume et ne confère sa verdure qu’en rétro-olfaction. La finale est sèche, subite et totalement désaltérante.

Appearance: Nice golden pour, with a big frothy white head that hangs on forever. Enticing white lacing.

Aroma: There’s a lot going on here. Fresh-baked white bread predominates, followed by a bit of sweet malt and fresh boiled carrots. Intriguing.

Taste: Very slight hops and light malty sweetness, with a bit of black-coffee bitterness to finish. Other reviewers report a lot of citrus flavours here, which I didn’t get at all.

Mouthfeel: Clean and easy drinking. I could suck this down in about three swallows, if I’m not careful.

Overall: As usual, the team at Bishop’s gave me good advice. This is a finely crafted, nicely balanced APA—just what I’d expect from a brewery with Le Trou Du Diable’s reputation, and a nice counterpoint to a flight of big, dark beers.

85/100

You can find Le Trou du Diable on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.

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North Brewing – Belgian IPA

Tucked away in Halifax’s North End, North (formerly known as Bridge) Brewing Company artfully produces Belgian-style ales, riffing off that style to create big flavourful beers that make a lasting impression.

From the brewery: A dry hopped Belgian IPA. Centennial and Chinook hops are complimented by the spice and citrus character produced by our Belgian yeast strain. This ale has intense hop character without being overly bitter.

2015/01/img_2436-0.jpg

Appearance: Golden and copper hues, cloudy amber in the glass. Slight but lingering head. Nice lacing.

Aroma: Complex nose. Green bananas, pine needles and orange zest. Tantalizing aromas that set that bar high.

Taste: The taste delivers what the nose promised. Starts with another hit of orange zest, but the hops quickly take over for a big hit of dandelion greens, cloves and peppercorns. A dry, bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with average carbonation.

Overall: This is one fine IPA, one of my favourite beers from North. There is a lot going on flavour-wise, but it’s still a crisp and refreshing beer and a perfect example of what North is all about: Old World sensibilities with some daring New World experimentation.

84/100

You can find North Brewing Company on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.

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Orkney Brewery – Skull Splitter

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/260/59048405/files/2014/12/img_2303.jpgWee Heavy isn’t a beer style I love, perhaps because I haven’t had many examples of it. But when the opportunity came up to try Orkney Brewery’s signature Scotch Ale, courtesy of the Craft Beer Cellar in Newton, Massachusettes, I got a welcome chance to educate myself.

From the brewery: Skull Splitter is our strongest ale: which is named after Thorfinn Einarsson who was the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney. Sophisticated, satiny smooth with a deceptively light character, it is a tribute to our colourful forbear.

Appearance: Rich mahogany in the glass, this is a beautiful pour, with a slight off-white head that quickly dissipates and minimal lacing.

Aroma: A big nose of spiced rum and figs. Bold, powerful aromas. Tasting note: “Whoa.”

Taste: There’s a lot going on here charred oak, thick molasses, black licorice. Flavours come in waves and linger on palate. Pairs well with red meat and big cheeses. Would probably pair well with steak and blue cheese.

Mouthfeel: Lighter bodied than I was expecting. Smooth and easy-drinking.

Overall: If you’re lukewarm on scotch ales, as I was, this is a great way to discover the style. Unless, you’re a viking, you probably shouldn’t drink it all night, but Skull Splitter is a must-try tasting experience.

82/100

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.

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