Tag Archives: ale

Rogue Ales – Rogue Nation Brutal India Pale Ale

I’ve been hearing American friends talk about Rogue’s (Newport, Oregon) signature IPA for ages, so I was pretty excited when I recently found it at RockHead Wine & Beer Market in Halifax. My favourite beer style is a big ballsy IPA, and I was curious to see if this one measured up to its hype.

From the brewery: Brutal combines Oregon hops with English Malts. The Oregon grown Crystal hop is a triploid variety developed from the German Hallertau aroma hop variety with contributions from Cascade, Brewers Gold, and Early Green. Crystal is the only hop used in brewing Brutal and it provides a massive amount of aroma without dry-hopping. The English malts used are floor malted Pipkin (a mellow cross of Maris Otter and Warboys, from an English company called Beeston), Cara Vienna and Cara Wheat.

Appearance: Cloudy orange pour with a rich and persistent white head. Strong and lingering lacing.

Aroma: Huge nose of lemon zest and fresh-cut pine. 

Taste: Cream-of-wheat sweetness up front, with a sharp lemon-zest finish. Long-lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Big carbonation means a tingly, lively mouthfeel, with a bit of tongue-curling from the aftertaste.

Overall: This IPA’s reputation is well earned. It’s nicely crafted, aggressively hoppy but not overwhelming, and expertly balanced. Add this one to your Essential American Craft Beers list.

86/100

You can find Rogue Ales on the web, 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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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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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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Smuttynose – Old Brown Dog

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We all know that distance can be a problem getting the beers we want to try, so when my wife was heading to New England on a trip I was pretty excited. I got out my pen and paper and made a list. Topping that list was pretty much anything from Smuttynose. After having the pleasure of trying their Finestkind IPA I knew I wanted more from them. When my wife returned with Old Brown Dog I knew this would be good.

From the brewery: Old Brown Dog has been cited as a classic example of the “American Brown Ale” style of beer. Compared to a typical English Brown Ale, Old Brown Dog is fuller-bodied and more strongly hopped.

Old Brown Dog has been around for many years. It was first brewed in 1988 at the Northampton Brewery. In 1989 it won a silver medal in its category (American Brown Ale) at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It has since been retired from competition but enjoys love and respect from people all over the world.

Appearance: Deep golden brown with amber highlights. Off white, fluffy head. Clear.

Aroma: Clean aroma for an ale. Grassy-grainy malt with some light flowery hop notes.

Taste: Dark toasted bread with moderate bitterness. Little fruitiness – raisins, plum and hints of Toffee-like sweetness and slightly burnt sugar. There’s a little hops and is overall pretty balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium-light carbonation. Pleasant on the palate.

Overall: Very nice to drink. Not like the IPAs that I’ve had from Smuttynose, but shows their range of producing fantastic beers. Balanced and with a good hit of alcohol (6.7%) that is unlike the UK cousin beers, though you’d never notice in this one. Well done.

83/100

You can find Smuttynose on the webFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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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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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).

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