Category Archives: opinion

Drink N Brew Hits The Airwaves!

This past Friday evening I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Sheldon MacLeod Show on News 95.7 to talk beer. If you tuned in to listing, thanks, if not, you can check it out here. Thanks to Sheldon and News 95.7 for having me on. It was great to share some of my beer geek knowledge.

-Cheers!

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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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Pumphouse – Stonefire Ale

IMG_2142.JPGWith 15 years under its belt, Pump House Brewery & Restaurant in Moncton, New Brunswick is one of the originators of the East Coast craft brew scene. This fall, it marked its anniversary with its Stonefire Ale, in a limited release of just 4,000 750 millilitre bottles. Stonefire is a dark amber Steinbier—a traditional German technique in which brewers dunk red-hot stones into the wort to make it boil quickly. That caramelizes and burns the sugars, giving the beer a unique sweet profile. Matt and Trevor both sampled Stonefire lately, so we’re joining forces for a tag-team review. Matt’s bottle was 408 of the 4,000 produced, while Trevor had number 3,116.

Appearance: We were struck by what an attractive pour this beer is. It has a rich burnt orange colour, and slight head, with lively carbonation.

Aroma: Matt found it clean and malty, with slight grassy notes. Trevor, who seemed to get more head on his pour than Matt, was struck by a big unexpected nose of overripe oranges.

Taste: We were both expecting this to be a heavy and rich beer, perhaps something like an Irish red. We were astonished when what we tasted was more like a saison than anything else. Matt found it light and refreshing, with a hint of spice and orange-zest bitterness to finish. Trevor also got a big orange hit, but found a bit of creaminess—“This tastes like a tart creamsicle.” Very slight malts to finish.

Mouthfeel: With a light to medium body, this is a well carbonated beer. Trevor found it a touch fizzy; Matt didn’t.

Overall: This was the first Steinbier either of us had tasted, so we can’t tell you how well it represents the style, but it sure wasn’t what we were expecting. When we compared tasting notes, we saw that we’d both used the word “saison” over and over. It’s a unique, nuanced beer, shockingly easy to drink, yet rich in flavour. Trevor found it paired well with spicy fried pepperoni.

Matt: 82/100
Trevor: 84/100

You can find Pump House Brewery on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

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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).

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The Contract Brewhouse: Is this the future of craft beer start-ups?

IMG_1847.JPGWe all know that there is a huge boom in the craft beer industry. The market tastes have shifted from the mass-produced, pale larger to a wide range of flavourful beers made by a host of small brewers. Many beer enthusiast, home brewers, and business people are getting in on the growing market share that is craft beer. But breweries are expensive. The average beer lover can’t afford a brewery, nor have the financial backing to raise the capital that would be needed to set one up.

But what if you see that opportunity? What if you have a sound marketing plan and a great recipe? What if you’re afraid of getting yourself into that much debt? Enter the contract brewhouse. Businesses such as Brew Hub will make your beer, for a cost, but they float the overhead. Sure its not the same as owning your own brewery, but you can be a professional brewer with distribution to the beer drinking public.

It almost seems too easy. It wouldn’t do the industry any good if the market got flooded by bad beers from people who have no business to be brewing. On the other hand, this would be the opportunity for some really good brewers to get started. It could also be a way for many small established breweries to move beyond their regional boarders. I might be afraid of losing control of my product. I can control what happens in my own brewhouse, but not necessarily a third-party. You would have to rely on someone else’s idea of quality control and consistency.

Like it or not, this seems like a business model that will be here to stay. The lure of getting your beer produced without taking all the risks will be to great of a draw for many aspiring professional brewers. And why wouldn’t it be?

-Cheers

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