Tag Archives: Trevor Adams

BEER BY THE SEA: 5 FAVOURITES FROM THE MAGDALEN ISLANDS

Last month, I went on a family vacation to Quebec’s Magdalen Islands (AKA Îles de la Madeleine). About a 5.5-hour ferry ride from P.E.I., the Acadian archipelago is smack in the middle of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, boasting an abundance of sandy beaches, fresh seafood, and spectacular scenery. And like the rest of Quebec, it has a lively local-food-and-drink scene.

Considering the region’s total population is 12,000, I was delighted to discover a thriving local brewery, cidery, and meadery, plus a choice selection of other Quebecois drinks. (I know some people argue that cider and mead aren’t really beer; if confronted by one of those people, it’s best to just nod politely and have a drink.)

Here are my five favourites from the trip.

Chipie by Archibald Microbrasserie in Lac-Beauport, Que.

The instant you board that ferry in Souris, P.E.I., you’re essentially in Quebec. The proof? The onboard bar boasts a selection of craft beers at a shockingly reasonable price and you’re not confined to a little bar to drink them. My vacation started with a textbook American red ale. Unshowy and straightforward, with a lovely Cascade-hop nose and a strong malt backbone.

Pilsner Blonde by Alchimiste Microbrasserie in Joliette, Que.

As you’d expect, the SAQ liquor store was our first stop, where this little darling was retailing for $2.85 a bottle. (In a Nova Scotian store, $2.85 barely gets you a look at a good craft beer, let alone a bottle.) This is no low-quality, high-volume discount beer, though. It’s unusually interesting for the style: light and grainy, with faint minerality to finish. Refreshing after a long day of travel.

And now, the made-in-the-Magdalens portion of our list…

Hydromel des Montants by Miel En Mer in Havre-aux-Maisons, Que.

There’s some debate over just what to call this tasty beverage. The honey-maker who produces it calls it a “honey wine,” Untappd calls it a “honey beer,” and the local tourism website calls it “mead.” Pedantry aside, it’s surprisingly sweet without being cloying. Local chokeberries give it a nice complexity, adding just enough tartness to offset the honey richness.

La Poméloi by Le Verger Poméloi in Bassin, Que.

This charming little cidery is tucked away on a winding dirt road in the hills, about as far from the ocean as you can get on this island. Its store/tasting room is just big enough for four adults. And it is absolutely worth visiting. The owner is friendly and knowledgeable, eager to share his passion. (He invited us to wander around the orchards and explore, which was a lovely way to spend a sunny summer morning). This eponymous oak-aged cider is his Cadillac, and it’s not hard to see why. At 17% ABV, it’s agreeably warm, with the oakiness making it feel like a smooth, faintly sweet whisky. Prickly/spicy notes give it an excellent finish. The best cider I’ve had in a long, long time.

Corps Mort by À l’abri de la Tempête in L’Etang du Nord, Que.

On my last Quebec trip I went to Gaspé and found a pilsner from these guys that I loved, so I was eager to visit the brewery on this trip. I took a trunkful of their beer home, and this English-style barleywine was my favourite. Sticky, rich, currant-sweet, and smooth. With 11% ABV, it’s another big boozer, but it’s so beautifully crafted you’d never know it. Aggressively flavourful yet quaffable. Often this style starts to feel like work after I’ve had a couple sips; this one went down easily, leaving me wondering why I hadn’t bought more. Best beer of the trip (and of the year, so far).

~

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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Garrison – Irish Red

20140724-162427-59067386.jpgLocated on the Halifax waterfront, Garrison is one of the granddaddies of the Atlantic Canadian craft-beer scene and has, over the last few years, also grown to become one of the region’s largest craft brewers. Most importantly, it has done so while retaining a small-time feel, with flavourful beers that still feel like they come from a small brewery. This may seem a no-brainer, but as many small brewers get bigger, they lose their way and start trying to appeal to ever broader tastes, until their beer tastes like just another macrobrew. I’m looking at you, Sam Adams. But I digress… I’ll have more to say about Sam Adams in a future post, but for now, let’s return to Garrison and its Irish Red.

From the brewery: “This classic beer style was inspired by centuries of Celtic brewing history, Specialty kilned malts such as dark caramel and Munich dominate the Irish Red resulting in a ruby red colour and smooth malty taste.”

Appearance: Bright copper, with ruby hues. Frothy head that dissipates quickly, leaving a lot of lacing behind.

Aroma: A nice punch of malt, faint hits of fruit and caramel—think of candy apples.

Taste: Malty, but not as malty as your nose tells you to expect. Moves smoothly to dark chocolate, with a black coffee finish. Agreeably hoppy; almost, but not unpleasantly, a hint of fresh-cut grass. Bold flavours, best enjoyed with a palate-cleansing apéritif. 

Mouthfeel: Foamier in the mouth than it looks in the glass. The hoppiness puckers your mouth, and will linger a bit. 

Overall: As you’ve probably gathered, I like this beer a lot. It’s been a mainstay in my fridge all summer, and it’s an equally pleasant winter beer. It has big flavours and lots of character, and holds its own alongside any Irish red. And lest you think I gush, it’s a three-time bronze winner at the Canadian Brewing Awards, and took home gold at the 2010 World Beer Championships.

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).

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REVIEW: Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Kellerbier Anno 1417

20140612-055738-21458335.jpgGuest review by Trevor Adams

The brewer’s notes on this beer focus a lot on its drinkability, and not much on its taste. And that’s probably a good call. Its flavour is unremarkable (in a blandly pleasant way) but it is a smooth, refreshing and easy-to-drink beer—the kind of beer that suits best after you mow the lawn on a hot day.

From the brewer: Münchner Kellerbier Anno 1417 exudes seductive hues of golden honey as it shimmers in the light. This is a beer of inimitable character—authentic and gutsy, yet eminently quaffable and refreshingly mild and light. In other words, a true Bavarian.

Appearance: Golden and opaque, with head that disapates fast.

Aroma: An earthy, grassy smell—hints of honeysuckle, with a slight grapefruit tang.

Taste: Clean and crisp, with some apple in the finish. Less nuanced than its aroma would lead you to expect—an immature tasting, straightforward beer. To no one’s surprise, it pairs nicely with sauerkraut and bratwurst.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation, with an unremarkable body; a bit of a soapy finish.

Overall: The brewer describes this as a textbook Bavarian, but I’ve been to Bavaria, and we must be reading different textbooks. There’s nothing wrong with it, but Munich can, and usually does, do much better. A perfectly servicable everyday beer, but unlikely to rock your world.

76/100

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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BEER MONDAY REVIEW (takeover by Trevor Adams): Gahan – Sir John A’s Honey Wheat

photo 2We’re back at the Gahan House Brewery in Charlottetown, P.E.I. to sample Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale. The brewer describes this as “a light golden brew with honey-ish notes on the nose and a rounded, off dry and slightly citrusy body,” which is true, so far as it goes. I just don’t know about calling this a honey wheat ale. In character and style, it’s far closer to a blonde.

Appearance: Light, golden and clear, with a thin head that dissapates quickly.

Aroma: Hoppy and citrusy—almost limey. You know what I’d expect to smell here? Honey. Alas, no honey.

Taste: Very crisp, with a nice punch of citrus that quickly fades into a slow heat. The flavour profile is more simplistic than I’d like (or hope), but it’s clean and drinkable.

Mouthfeel: Light and unremarkable; closer to a macro-brewery beer.

Overall: This one isn`t going to change your life, and it`s not a great example of a wheat ale. But taken on its own, it`s pleasant and drinkable‑a good beer for a hot summer day. Its most outstanding quality is its crispness, so it pairs nicely with fatty-porky dishes; the hops cut right through that rich fat. At the Gahan House, they recommend pairing with their dry ribs. I’ve tried with both smoked pork belly and bacon-wrapped scallops and was happy with the results.

72/100

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).