Category Archives: Guest blogger

Belgian Holiday

I knew it was going to be a good trip when I sat down for my first meal and asked the server to suggest a local beer. He quickly rattled off five beers with names I’d never heard of and long and elaborate pedigrees that I couldn’t follow. Then when I ordered my meal, he rescinded all those options, and told me what beer I had to have with my food.

Last week, in my day job as editor of Halifax Magazine, I visited the Flanders region of Belgium and the Arras region of France for a tour of First World War related sites. It was an amazing, moving experience (which you can read more about in the November issue of the magazine) and Europe being the civilized place it is, I tried many, many good beers. In no particular order, here are my five favourites. 

 Papegaei by Brouwerij Verstraete at Restaurant Lettenburg in Diksmuide, Belgium. Created by local gypsy brewer Adam Verstraete, this is a big boozy blonde (8% ABV) with beautifully fresh and floral hops. Verstraete uses fresh hop flowers (rather than pellets or extract) to impart the unique flavours.
 Kriek 100% Lambic by Brasserie Cantillon at Le Poechenellekelder in Brussels, Belgium. I drank so many good krieks on this trip, I could easily give you a Top 5 list featuring nothing but that style. This was the best: light body and lively carbonation, crazy cherry sourness to start, with a subtle sweet finish. Perfect after a long walking tour of Brussels.
 Page 24 Reserve Hildegarde Blonde by Brasserie Saint-Germain at L’estaminet de Lorette in Albain-Saint-Nazaire, France. I was only in France for one day, so I didn’t get to try many local beers, but I’m very grateful to the restaurateur who brought this biere de garde unbidden after seeing me wave away a waiter with Stella. Fruity nose and flavours of fresh-baked bread, with an unexpectedly sweet finish. Paired nicely with a hearty beef stew.

  

Wipers Times 14 by Brouwerij Kazematten at Het Moment in Ieper, Belgium. During the First World War, British troops in the Ypres Salient produced a magazine called The Wipers Times. In the very casements where they took shelter, a local brewery now produces this pale ale. Historical connection aside, it’s a lovely example of a Belgian PA, with floral notes, slight hops, and a nice fruity finish.

  

Liefmans Goudenband by Brouwerij Liefmans at De Fonderie in Ieper, Belgium.
Hands-down, my favourite beer from the trip. This Flanders Oud Bruin style is a beer built for aging (it spends up to a year in the cellar before even leaving the brewery). The restaurant had been aging this bottle for “three or four years.” The result? A huge hit of rhubarb and green-apple aromas, followed by a wave of mouth-puckering flavours with a bit of an oak-barrel quality. Almond and currant flavours to close. I had this with a big steak, and it was life-alteringly good.

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.

Drinknbrew.com

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be our friend on Untappd.

.

    Advertisements

    Garrison Brewing Company — Double Jack Imperial Pumpkin Ale

    IMG_1984.PNGI’ve always been kind of iffy on pumpkin ales. They tend to have a compost aroma, and don’t actually taste much like pumpkin—“cloying nutmeg” would generally be a more accurate way to describe them. Garrison, however, never disappoints me, so I was willing to give the pumpkin-beer craze another shot. As the name suggests, it’s more of an imperial ale than a pumpkin one, and that works out just fine.

    From the brewery: Lordy, Lordy, Garrison gets “Gourdy” with this scary big brew. Daniel carved up “Cinderella” pumpkins from the Dill Family Farm in Windsor, then added cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg to create pure, pumpkiny perfection! For a limited time, choose “treat” and get to know “Double Jack” Boo!

    Appearance: Double Jack is a beautiful pour—deep rusty copper with a frothy white head and abundant lacing. It’s gorgeous in the glass.

    Aroma: There’s a nice, but not overpowering, hit of cloves and nutmeg right off the top, followed by a bigger whiff of hops than you normally get from a pumpkin ale.

    Taste: That spiciness tweaks the tongue first. It screamed cloves at me, but my wife tasted a whole bunch of cinnamon. The pumpkins join with four different malts (Maritime Pale Ale, Kiln Amber, Munich and Crystal) to create a flavour like sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. The Millennium hops show up during the long slow finish, ending the taste with a grassy but not bitter note.

    Overall: This is a pumpkin ale for serious beer lovers. It’s nicely balanced—not too sweet, not too spicy, not too pumpkiny. It all combines for a beer that’s unique, well crafted and a grade above most pumpkin ales.

    85/100

    You can find Garrison 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).

    Drinknbrew.com
    Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be our friend on Untappd.

    Muwin Estate Wines — Bulwark Traditional Craft Cider

    IMG_1983.JPGHere in Nova Scotia, where the Annapolis Valley produces some of the world’s finest apples, you’d think well crafted artisanal ciders would abound. That wasn’t the case for a long time (I well remember when Strongbow was as good as you were going to do) but as the craft-beer scene has taken off, so has local craft cider. Bulwark isn’t Nova Scotia’s first craft cider, but it’s my favourite.

    From the cidery: Our signature cider, Bulwark Original, is a handcrafted traditional cider, which is dry, crisp, and refreshing. It has a faint hint of spice followed by the Bulwark Original signature flavour that is achieved through our careful blending of five varieties of freshly pressed Nova Scotia apples grown in the famed Annapolis Valley. The dry start is quite complex without the intense sharpness often associated with many traditional dry ciders. It moves quickly from dry to an almost wine-like and slightly mineral fruitiness before relaxing into a nutty floral finish. Great on its own or on ice!

    Appearance: Golden straw colour, with bubbles and carbonation that would make champagne jealous. Ciders generally aren’t much to look at, but lively carbonation coupled with the (read on) robust nose promised something special here.

    Aroma: Apples. Just plain, wholesome, delicious apples. Take a nice crisp granny smith, cut it up and inhale—that’s it. None of the artificial sticky sweetness that bedevils the aroma of lesser ciders.

    Taste: Good craft beers can be subtle and layered, with flavour profiles that sneak up on you, and go in unexpected directions. Good cider isn’t like that. A good cider is as crisp and straightforward as a punch in the face. This is a very good cider. Take a bite of a really crisp little green apple. That’s what Bulwark is like. There’s a very brief hit of sweetness, followed by a smooth, crisp finish, that’s not quite as dry as you might expect. Some online reviewers describe a spiciness here, but I had two bottles and didn’t get a bit of that—just perfect, delicious apples. It’s also available on tap, so that might account for the difference.

    Overall: This is the cider I’ve been seeking for years. It’s beautifully balanced, tart but not too tart, and amazingly refreshing. It pairs wonderfully with a fiery Thai curry, and is a nice palate-cleanser after a robust beer.

    87/100

    Bulwark Cider can be found 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).

    Drinknbrew.com
    Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be our friend on Untappd.

    Cannery Brewing Company – Wildfire IPA

    IMG_1955.JPGRarely have I sampled a beer I’ve been so excited to try. For starters, Cascadian dark ales don’t exactly abound out here in the Maritimes. And ever since my brother moved to British Columbia, I’ve been listening to him rave about the great craft-beer scene out there. One of his favourites is the Cannery Brewing Company in Pentincton. I found some of their Skaha Summer Ale in Moncton last summer—just enough to pique my interest. So recently, I prevailed upon my brother to send me “their most unique beer.”

    From the brewery: This unique black India Pale Ale is a tribute to the firefighters and emergency service workers who help fight our Canadian wildfires each year. Wildfire IPA is intensely dark and smooth. This black IPA has complex hops that rage through to the finish. Fierce hop, gentle bite! A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this beer go to the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

    Appearance: A beautiful inky black pour—it looks like midnight in a glass. A rich aromatic head, with thick off-white froth and lacing that goes on for days.

    Aroma: A little hit of wildflowers at first, followed by strong roasty smell—think burnt toast with a hint of sweet malt.

    Taste: That burnt-toast sensation carries over into the first taste, but quickly gives way to big waves of grassy hops, one after the other. With lively carbonation and a light mouthfeel, it’s much easier-drinking than the aroma or appearance would suggest.

    Overall: Complex without being overwhelming, deliciously hoppy without going too far—this is a well crafted, nuanced and surprisingly subtle beer. It was a fantastic introduction to the style, and well worth the wait.

    86/100

    Cannery Brewing Company can be found on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

    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).

    Drinknbrew.com
    Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be our friend on Untappd.

    Uncle Leo’s Brewery – Vohs Weizenbier

    IMG_1753Apparently the folks at Uncle Leo’s Brewery in Lyon’s Brook, Nova Scotia aren’t given to bragging. Their sparse description of this German-style wheat beer scarcely does it justice. Smooth as melted butter with wave after wave of flavour, every mouthful is a delight.

    From the brewery: A tribute to our neighbours, Matt and Brenda Vohs. Owners of Piper’s Landing Restaurant, Lyon’s Brook and our first customer to put us on tap.

    Appearance: Beautiful golden pour, with a thick pearl head and lacing that goes on forever.

    Aroma: Smells like a hot summer day in the country. Fresh and spicy—I swear, there’s a hint of sage in there.

    Taste: The most dominant, and surprising, flavour is sweet corn and melted butter, followed by a hit of over-ripe banana. Just when you think it’s done, there’s a little smack of cloves.

    Mouthfeel: Smooth and buttery, stimulates every taste bud without puckering the mouth or overwhelming the palate.

    Overall: I hear that when Uncle Leo’s first offered this beer, it suffered from some quality-control problems, leaving an unpleasant soapy aftertaste. On the last two bottles, there wasn’t a hint of that problem—there’s nothing like that going on now. This is one of the finest beers I’ve tried all year, shockingly quaffable for a weizenbier. This pairs like a dream with a roast-chicken Sunday dinner.

    88/100

    Trevor J. Adams is a regular contributor to Drink N Brew, reviewing beers and curating social media. An award-winning journalist and editor, he’s been writing about libations, entertaining and related topics since 1998. He’s a beer enthusiast at heart, senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine by day. An avid sports fan, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing) in 2012.

    Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Lager

    IMG_0702.JPGBeer snobs will tell you the lagers are passé, but anyone who honestly believed that has never tried this one. Brooklyn Brewery’s version is a textbook example of how good a lager can be. It’s crisp, clean, refreshing and perfectly balanced.

    From the brewery: In the late 1800s Brooklyn was one of the largest brewing centers in the country, home to more than 45 breweries. Lager beer in the “Vienna” style was one of the local favourites. Brooklyn Lager is amber-gold in color and displays a firm malt center supported by a refreshing bitterness and floral hop aroma. Caramel malts show in the finish. The aromatic qualities of the beer are enhanced by “dry-hopping,” the centuries-old practice of steeping the beer with fresh hops as it undergoes a long, cold maturation. The result is a wonderfully flavorful beer, smooth, refreshing and very versatile with food. Dry-hopping is largely a British technique, which we’ve used in a Viennese-style beer to create an American original.

    Appearance: Clear amber with a thick off-white head; beautiful lingering lacing.

    Aroma: Smells of toasted brown bread and orange blossoms, with a hint of caramel.

    Taste: Instantly refreshing; dry and crisp with a hint of lemon juice. Dry, hoppy aftertaste with a quick quenching finish. Goes down easily.

    Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation and perfect balance. Just enough of an aftertaste to make you reach for another one.

    Overall: My favourite lager, hands-down. Perfect for a hot summer day, but eminently drinkable in any season. This is ridiculously flavourful for a lager. Like most lagers, it pairs well with most any savoury food, but it would be a real treat with a fiery bowl of Southwestern chilli.

    86/100

    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).

    Drinknbrew.com
    Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be our friend on Untappd.

    Great Lakes Brewery – Canuck Pale Ale

    IMG_1714.JPG

    Building on the popularity of its signature pale ale, Great Lakes has become one of Canada’s top craft brewers, winning Canadian Brewery of the Year in 2013 and 2014. This summer, the brewery relaunched and rebranded the ale. Launched in 2010 to dovetail with the Vancouver Olympics, it was originally known as Crazy Canuck and brought the West Coast pale-ale style to eastern Canada. “While the name and branding change, the wonderful liquid inside the can remains the same,” says brewery owner Peter Bulut Jr. “Our version of a West Coast ale has been turning heads since we launched it in Ontario in 2010 and because it’s a serious beer, we wanted to give it a new look more in line with our increasingly popular Tank Ten series.”

    From the brewery: “It’s been said that ‘Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.’ This beer doesn’t help much with that crisis. From the fiercely irresponsible stereotypical image on the front of the can to the distinctly American style of the beer inside it we’ve really made a mess of things. What have we done? Sorry.”

    Appearance: Rich golden colour, hazy; thick, creamy head.

    Aroma: A slight hoppy nose, with whiffs of fresh grapefruit peelings.

    Taste: A nice refreshing hit of grapefruit-citrus at the start, but not as much as your nose tells you to expect. A dry hoppy finish, which stops just on the right side of overpowering. The taste stays with you, but that’s fine, because odds are good you’re going to drink another one anyway. It’s that kind of beer.

    Mouthfeel: A little soft for my taste, but not under-carbonated… I’d just prefer a bit more.

    Overall: This is pigeonholed as hot summer-day beer, but don’t let that stop you from trying it this fall. Its flavours are nicely layered and balanced. It’s a crisp, refreshing beer. Easy and pleasant to drink. Potentially deadly—you could drink a case of this and not notice it until you tried to stand.

    85/100

    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).

    Drinknbrew.com
    Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be our friend on Untappd.