Once upon a time there was a very useful brewery in Suffolk called Lidstones. At beer festivals I visited, their beer always stood out as being consistently excellent. Then they upped sticks and moved to Yorkshire remaming itself Wensleydale. Reincarnation. Disaster I thought. Just over a week ago we put the Wensleydale Brewery's beer on our shelves. Their Poacher is the nearest thing to Lidstones Rawalpindi IPA, always one of my great favourites. Here is the brewery's description of the ale:
This Straw coloured beer uses the finest floor malted maris otter and crystal malts and Challenger and Styrian Goldings hops. Add the village's unique supply of spring water from its waterfalls, and you have an excellent clean and crisp ale with citrus notes making this a highly refreshing and drinkable India Pale Ale.I was afraid to try it, for fear that it would be a disappointment, but a few weekends ago I gave in and tried it. Poacher is absolutely wonderful, I've not so enjoyed a beer for quite a long time. It's light amber in colour with a slight head, its pungent 'nose' is hoppy and fruity. The initial taste is one of hops and grass which is then taken over by a slight bitter aftertaste and a biscuity finish. A good example of an IPA !
This brew provides a great education in the timing of hop additions. I know you were sitting there day after day wonder when I was going to mention the importance of the timing of hop additions. Well, this is the day because this brew provides a great education in the timing of hop additions.
Usually, pale ale brewing asks for three differing moments for adding hops: at the outset of the boil, at roughly the 3/4 point of the boil and at the end of the boil. These additions add bittering taste, hop flavour and aroma respectively so by balancing the relative quantity of each addition you set the hop profile of a beer - lots of bitter but low aroma or lots of green flavour and aroma but little bitter at the start. As we have recently learned the Dogfish Head brewery of Delaware has a line of ales with non-stop hop addition though the boil but that is not the norm, thought it is lovely. If you consider the 86 varieties of hop and hop packaging available through this homebrew supplier, you can see that there are about one bazillion ways that a beer's hop profile can play out. Just about. Yup.
This is our interpretation of a classic pale ale. Our "XP" (exceptional pale) has a golden color, and is very light bodied with a noticeable hop aroma and bittering element that just teases the hopheads but satisfies the newest of microbrewed ale drinkers. This beer is brewed with American Two Row, English wheat, Belgian, and Dextrin malts. Mix this with just the right amounts of Cascade and Centennial hops and you've got a winner!! 2003 Real Ale Festival, Chicago, Bronze Medal Winner; 2001 North American Brewers' Awards, Gold Medal Winner; 2000 California State Fair, Bronze Medal Winner; 1997 Beerfest Invitational, Bronze Medal Winner - og 1.052, ABV 5.4%, IBU 55.See that little bit of info at the end? That means 55 International Bitterness Units. I have known people who rated on the IBU scale but that is entirely another matter.
The beer pours a nice orange cream head over a very orangey amber brew. As the brewer notes the body is light for a real ale but frankly nothing like what most would call a real ale. But unlike, say, a big hoppy bomb like Stone's Ruination IPA the first sip is inviting rather than intimidating. Also unlike a lot of pale ales, other flavours of green and twiggy bitter start only jumping in mid-mouth ending with a further nice bit of spice in the swallow. It is a sort of back-ended ale and that is all due to the focus on adding hops later in the boil. Certainly there are some of the early bittering hops as these are needed to cut out the cloy of maltiness. The malt in this case is very fruity with a lean towards pear and even orange rather than the appley notes you often get with pale malt. In the malt there is a good measure of English wheat giving a nod to what would be called a Yorkshire style of pale ale. The wheat is not grassy as you get with many European styles of wheat beer. It is sort of fresh cut sweet hardwoody there in the middle. Lots of yeast in the glass at the end. Yeast good.
As you can see, there is a lot to take from this beer and if there are others by the brewer next time I am down at Galeville, I may try and grab some. $4.39 for a 22 oz bomb so not cheap but worth it...and the advocates agree.
More than a few years ago I was in a pub and saw on the chalkboard "Special: liver and onions 12.99". When the waiter arrived I asked what was so special?
I have only disliked one beer so much I was quite confused and frustrated and that was a jalopena beer made long ago - but thankfully no more - by Garrison of Halifax. It burned the front of the mouth sharply leaving you no interest in having another sip. If you took a sip to make the taste go away, as one might out of instinct, the burn got worse.
Rogue's Chipotle Ale is no where near that bad. It is however, the only ale by Rogue I can imagine needing a special price to move off the shelf. The first taste was canned okra followed by the same smokey chipotle in Tabasco Chipotle sauce, a favorite of mine, followed by some sharp heat. The malt's sweetness does balance the rich hot pepper but the beer still asks the question "why?". It might make a good marinade for ribs but I am a bit lost as to why you would spend this much for that. What are you supposed to eat with this?
Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55
I knew that the Dodgers win in the 1955 World Series was a big thing but I had no idea how it was celebrated in Brooklyn with a bigger parade than VE Day, due in large part to the dramatics of the catch. This bottling by the Brooklyn Brewery of their Pale Ale celebrates the 50th anniversary of that great event.
My first impression of the ale is of its sweetness. This is a fairly elemental ale, nothing an average working joe would not appreciate. The sweetness is slightly on the caramel side but well below tacky ot cloying. It is braced by some pale malt graininess underneath as well as edgy hops to the sides. It is soft to the mouth enriched by a creamy yeast. There is perhaps some smokiness within the sweet as well. The brewer says this:
A tribute to Brooklyn’s 1955 World Champion baseball team, Brooklyn Pennant Ale is a chestnut-colored pale ale with a hearty, toffeeish malt palate and a finely balanced hop finish. Pennant is a traditional English-style pale ale...Brooklyn Pennant Ale is brewed from Scottish Maris Otter malt, which is justly prized for its toasty, biscuity flavor and the smoothness it imparts to beer. Pennant is hopped with Willamette, Fuggle and Cascade, and top-fermented at warm temperatures for a rich, fruity flavor and aroma.Very pleasant summer beer. The advocates agree.
I noticed these two stores in the Google news this morning. The first from Brunei:
Man Fined Over Undeclared BeerThe second from Utah:
Bandar Seri Begawan - A 26-year-old Malaysian, who conveyed undeclared beer, was ordered jailed for three months after he failed to pay a $1,500 fine imposed by the Bandar Magistrate's Court. Defendant Fong Soong Soon kept 48 cans of Tiger Beer under the front bonnet of his car he drove from Limbang. He arrived at 11.10 am at the Customs Control Post in Kuala Lurah on June 1, according to Customs Prosecuting Officer Pg Abdullah Pg Hj Matahir. The defendant declared 12 cans of beer on a Customs form given to Customs officers on duty at the post.
Police On Lookout for Wyoming Beer RunsSo in Brunei, an extra 36 brew is a trafficing scheme and in Utah there is concern that high school kids are getting kegs of Wyoming brew and tapping the keg in the car coming back. It is important to know that in Utah beer over 3.2% is called "heavy beer" and specially regulated, hence the mad urge for the best Wyoming has to offer. I wonder if anyone noticed that if Utah dropped the special restrictions that there would be no need for beer runs in the minds of kids. Why you can't being a third six pack into Brunei is likewise beyond me.
Planning on making a beer run to Wyoming? Well, police are planning to catch you. This is the time of year for high school graduation parties, and state troopers are hoping to keep illegal alcohol from getting into the state. It'll make you slow down--a patrol car, seemingly out of nowhere. UHP troopers always look for speeders, but for the next few days they're also looking for something else. Sgt. Greg Willmore, Utah Highway Patrol: "We’re paying special attention to any indication that there’s any illegal alcohol coming across the border." Utah and out-of-state beer mix like Utes and BYU fans. You could go to jail for bringing it in. Out-of-staters, like Georgia resident JT Cantrell, think it's the craziest thing he's ever heard of. But as a dad, he likes the idea for underage teens. JT Cantrell: "It’s probably a good thing to keep drunks off the roads."
It's hard to beat a cold white beer on a warm and sunny late afternoon -- the clean, somewhat yeasty flavor and the snow-white lacy head of a good white makes the long day at the office worth the wait.
Here in Quebec, Blanche de Chambly is perhaps the best known of the local white beers, and deservedly so. It's pale yellow color and clean taste is very refreshing. But I've noticed a few other local white beers on the shelves, so I thought I'd give some a try.
First up was the angelic-sounding La Biere des Anges from Micro-brasserie Saint-Arnould, in Mont-Tremblant. I've had a few beers from Saint-Arnould, and while I find them quite interesting, there's a certain sharpness to them that doesn't quite sit right on my palate.
However, it's exactly that sharpness that makes La Biere des Anges very interesting as a white beer. It is more robust than what I expected from this style of beer -- which is usually quite crisp, almost citrusy in flavor with a fine yeasty aroma. It was also a deeper golden yellow than one would expect, and the characteristic yeastiness was not as pronounced.
While the above might sound a bit negative, the result was a very tasty brew that seemed more like a Czech pilsner with a white beer afterthought. Purists might balk, but if you're looking for a good, "pilsy" white on a hot day this summer, you won't go wrong with La Biere des Anges.
Next up was La Blanche from Cheval Blanc. Cheval Blanc is a well-known and long-standing brew pub in Montreal that expanded its range by bottling a number of very unusual brews. The pub has a sort of cult following, but it hadn't really been a big threat in the microbrew market until 1998, when it's brewing arm merged with two other microbrewers to create Brasseurs RJ.
The Cheval Blanc line is probably the least known (or, more charitably, "the most specialized") of the three or four brand mixes at Brasseurs RJ. That might change with La Blanche. It too is a bit more robust in flavor and color than one usually expects from a white (at least for those of us who use Hoegaarden as a sort of benchmark). However, the effect is beautiful.
Imagine a brew with the body and texture of (again) a Czech pilsner, but the head and aroma of a white beer, and somewhere in the mix just a slight hint of something toasty. This one is a winner, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, judging by it's sudden surge in popularity (which may be partly due to the new label).
Finally, there is Blanche de Quebec, brewed by Ferme-Brasserie Schoune (map). This is, to me, more what I expect of a white beer -- a pale lemony-yellow and slightly cloudy brew with an excellent white lacy head and a nice fresh yeasty flavor and aroma. This is my classic white beer of choice -- I prefer it even over the champ, Blanche de Chambly, because it has just a bit more oomph!
If the summer shapes up and gives us plenty of those long, golden evenings, I'll have at least three choices of white beers by which to enjoy them. Here's to summmer!
Recently, there was a bit of noise in the Canadian courts in the case Anchor Brewing Company v. The Sleeman Brewing & Malting Co. Ltd. about the ownership of the word "steam" in relation to beer. Here is the initial background:
On June 23, 1999, Anchor instituted this action against Sleeman for trade-mark infringement, and, in particular, depreciation of goodwill. Sleeman elected to proceed by oral examination for discovery as permitted by the Federal Court Rules, 1998, and on discovery, Anchor's representatives refused to provide several answers. Following an order from Prothonotary Aronovitch to compel them to answer, these representatives agreed to respond. When it obtained the replies to its questions, Sleeman filed its statement of defense and counterclaim, on May 31, 2001 to expunge Anchor's trade-mark.
Another gem from Rogue. The first impression is of minty hops over roast barley and creamy yeast. The aroma is what you wished coffee was really like in the morning, nice mocha head over deep brown beer. It is actually deceptively simple at first sip. The hops have the mintiness of Guinness's northern brewer variety but the bottle says they are Cascade and at the glass opens up you can pick out the citrus from amongst the roast barley - grapefruity rather than lemon or lime. Behind the hops there is roast barley over some mocha and chocolate. But it is not in your face over the top, something oddish for a stout, certainly compared to some of the Mainers I have had recently.
But it is fully there. The ingredients list rolled oats, which make this really an oatmeal stout. Rolled oats is a raw product and replaces Guinness's use of the same in barley. There is some of the silkiness oats conveys but nothing of the presence, say, McAuslan's St-Ambrose Oatmeal Stout. It is waiting you out.
This brew has done well. The brewer tells us:
Rogue's Shakespeare Stout received a 99, the highest score of the 309 beers in 44 categories at the 1994 World Beer Championships. The June/July 1998 issue of Men's Journal included Rogue Ales Shakespeare Stout as one of "The 100 Best Things to Eat in America."Based on Stuart Kallen's book, "The 50 Best Beers in the World", Shakespeare Stout was ranked the third best beer in the world and best American Beer--which makes it the World's Best Stout!There are too many world's bests stouts to believe that of its face but so many are so good, it is also hard to dismiss it out of hand. In a way this beer captures a bit of the style of dry stout and a bit of that of oatmeal, with a US hop twist. We split one over an hour or more of wee sips. Great marks from the beertonians.
3.79 USD for 22 oz of 6% stout at the Galeville Grocery.
If I were the type of person to buy beer 12 or 24 at a time instead of one by one, this would be one of those fridge standards I'd likely keep around. Middle Ages makes some of the best niche UK style brewed in the USA beers I have had but this is their ale for the guy who just wants an ale. It pours light amber with a white skim of a head, it has a great soft mouthfeel that matches the rich fruity premium pale malt and it framed by the husky graininess and edgy hops. The yeast is creamy but the overall effect is incredibly refreshing. Some advocatonians find it too buttery but that is a matter of taste.