Tag Archives: craft beer

BEER MONDAY REVIEW: Gahan – Island Red

20140414-175413.jpgThe Gahan is a brewpub located in Charlottetown, PE. Produced and exporting by the PEI Brewing Company across Canada, they’ve earned a reputation for production quality beers.

Their website describe their Island Red as:
“Island Red Premium Ale is an amber, medium bodied handcrafted ale with a smooth caramel overtone and bitter finish”.

And what did I think?

Appearance

Amber red colour with a slight haze. Thin white head that left a nice little lacing.

Aroma

Malt with some hops. Bready with hints of caramel. Light toast notes.

Taste

Some malt coming through, but more balanced towards the bitterness. Some hop flavour, flowery and fruity. A bit of caramel. A touch of lemon peal/rind in the after taste.

Mouthfeel

Medium to light bodied. Average or a bit better carbonation.

Overall

Nice, easy drinking North American styled amber ale (not as potent as something from the West Coast). No flaws stand out in this beer, but at the same time it is fairly pedestrian, not to say its bad in anyway, but may not stand out in a crowd either.

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

What will be in store (and your glass) for 2014?

Every year we see more and more people converting to craft beer. People are waking up to flavour and to the not so mundane – this is not a new trend. Since the early ’80s there has been a a steady growth in craft beer – at first it was small, but every year the market share is of craft breweries is growing. Today, more and more beer drinkers are looking for something that isn’t a pale, light flavoured lager, but something that is different. And what was “different” last year may be mainstream this year as many craft brewers are trying to keep up with what their customers want to drink. The craft beer movement has come on strong in Canada and with a fast growing number of brewers in the Maritimes we are on the edge of a beer revolution.

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So, what will 2014 bring?

It looks like big, hoppy IPAs will continue to be popular. The trend in ever higher alcohol and “the more hops the better” philosophy will keep rolling as drinkers can’t seem to get enough and the hop train keeps rolling from the west to the east. “The West Coast has been on the IPA bandwagon for a long time, but that being said, it’s a trend that keeps growing stronger.” says Tracy Phillippi of Garrison Brewery (www.garrisonbrewing.com), “Brewers out west are finding new & creative ways of using hops (hops in mash, hop filters, dry hopping, hops in bottles, etc.)… At the same time, new breweries in Toronto, seem to be starting with flagships styles that have mass appeal, but people still want aggressive IPAs. I think that’s one reason that our IIPA has done so well in the LCBO.”

In a twist counter to the big IIPA trend, low strength, session beers are increasing in popularity. As Sean Dunbar from Picaroons Brewery (www.picaroons.ca) in Fredericton, NB said, “There’s a much longer conversation to be had over beers sometime.” This is trend that not only Picarons sees, but across the nation because, well, sometimes there is a longer conversation to be had.

Local, and experimental beers. Drinkers are looking for the next think. People are willing to try new things that are coming out of their local brewpub and are also looking for the small, true craft beer – they want to know the people who brew the beer. “Niche, terroir-esque, and original beers are garnering a lot of attention in the market” says Jeremy White of Big Spruce Brewing (www.bigspruce.ca), adding “[It’s] going to be an interesting decade in craft beer.”

Sour beers of Belgium. These tart and refreshing beers are one of the oldest styles of beer. They’re produced using very traditional methods, allowing the beer to be “infected” with a variety of microbes that is truly a biological experiment gone right. Though these styles have been around for pretty much forever, they have had a falling off in popularity in their native European home, but are experiencing a serge of popularity this side of the Atlantic. Peter Burbridge of Bridge Brewing Company (bridgebeer.ca) says “Since we opened we have seen an increased awareness and demand for Belgian beer styles” adding that he sees the trend of sours coming to the Nova Scotia market.

2014 is shaping up to be an exciting year of beer. “I really think we’re (East Coast) finally seeing the growth in craft beer that other parts of North America have seen for the past several years” says Tracy Phillippi. “It’s exciting to see people come to craft beer for the first time, because in most other parts of North America it’s a longstanding trend.”

Cheers to a great year of beer!

Garrison – Spruce Beer

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Yes, spruce beer, beer made with branches off of trees.

I must admit, this was a unique experience. This is not an everyday, run of the mill beer. Spruce beer was a beer from nacessity, made by the first settlers in the New World with what they had on hand. Since they didn’t have hop yards planted yet they used spruce and fir tips to bitter their beer.

Since I was able to purchase this beer directly from the brewery I was able to chat with the shopkeeper about the beer. He told me that in past years this beer was sometimes a bit too sweet or too sprucy, but this year (2013) they hit the balance. After drinking this beer I can see how the balance could drift either way, with the sweetness or spruciness becoming dominate.

From the brewery:
“North America’s oldest beer style brewed with local Spruce and fir tips, blackstrap molasses and dates. Dark amber and brown colouring. Aroma is a comforting mix of spruce boughs, caramel malts, molasses and dates.”

Appearance
Dark brown with deep ruby highlights. Only a slight head.

Aroma
Like a sweet forest, if that makes sense. Sweet molasses mixed with spruce/fir and hints of dark fruit.

Taste
Not as much of the spruce as I expected, though it is there for sure. The sweetness comes on strong in the back. Almost a bit mediciny. Some dark fruit/date notes.

Mouthfeel
Full body with a moderate amount of carbonation. A bit sticky.

Overall
A unique experience. Not so dominated by the spruce as I expected and sweeter than my normal taste. Something that is worth trying but I couldn’t imagine having more than one in a sitting.

75/100
For uniqueness, if nothing else.