Finally the wee truck from Fitzroy Harbour up on the Ottawa River near Arnprior made its way down to Kingston giving us a taste of this excellent local ale. This is a hoppy beer that reminds me a lot of my recollection of the Dragon's Breath Ale contract brewed and bottled by the old Hart Brewery of Carleton place about (without looking) 35 miles south of Fitzroy Harbour. Candy cane Goldings and grapefruity Chinook hops combine to provide quite a bit of a sour tang to this fairly lightly bodied clean ale. The finish is a nice combination of the slight rough edge of the hops and the light graininess of the pale ale.
The brewery has a pretty good web presence which provides the names of bars where you can buy a pint of tap. It also describes the Sgt. Major IPA as follows:
Our Sgt. Major's IPA is our most intense ale to date. It's a massively hoppy and quite bitter beer, yet one with a nice, full-bodied malt background. It weighs in at 5.5 percent Alcohol (balanced by its big body). It is hopped with lots of Chinook hops which impart a tasty white-grapefruit/spice/resin flavour and aroma (and a total of 68 IBU) making the ale wonderfully refreshing. Being at the low end of the alcohol range for the style, it's as close to a supping pint as tradition allows. While the Sgt. Major's rather considerable bitterness is nicely balanced by its full-bodied maltiness, this is overall a predominantly hoppy ale. The full body of our India Pale Ale comes from lots of English pale ale malt and crystal malt, with a very small amount of chocolate malt. Our all-natural draught ale uses no artificial additives or preservatives.I don't know if that means the bottled version does have artificial additives and preservatives. I would also think that the full-bodied characterization is pushing it a bit in a world where a drive as far south as this is north will get me a Middle Ages Wailing Wench or Druid Fluid. It is, for example, lighter but hopper than Propeller's ESB from Halifax, one of the nicer bodied ales in Canada, but according to the standard scheme of bitters and pale ales a grade below an IPA. But this all is not to distract from the ale, just the adjectives. Like Mill Street Tankhouse Ale, the lighter mouthfeel I think reflects the apparent or possibly emerging Canadian style of pale ale, as opposed to my suggested putative style sweeter fuller Canadian amber but less hoppy. Both are a degree or two off the standard for an American pale ale or its amber sibling and different again from English ones.
Nevertheless, this is very good beer and a worthy addition to quest for the National Six-Pack. The quality of the craftsmanship makes me think a wee trip to the Manx in Ottawa is in order to try out the brewer's draught only Session Ale, a rare ordinary bitter which - if true to style - should not hit 3.5% and ought to be as refreshingly quaffable as a good dark mild.
I bought at six of this beer in Hannaford's grocery store in Watertown, New York for $7.99. Customsman let it go. Declared but he no cared.
It would be sweeter for that bonus but could it be? I really like this brew. Medium body. Lots of green hops almost to the point there is a green pea, mint and orange peel thing happening. Under that some crystal malt sweet and nice grainy pale malt. Some pear juice among the grain in the finish. Quality from the north country and just over the border
More as I think about it. Top cap design.
The next day: Lake Placid Craft Bewing is not in Lake Placid though it used to be. The brewery explains:
Founded in 1996, The Lake Placid Pub & Brewery began as a small brewpub, brewing less than 400 barrels each year for sale on site. Our great-tasting, fresh beer quickly grew in popularity and requests for our products poured in from area restaurant and bar owners. Production increased exponentially to keep up with demand, and we sold every last drop of beer we produced. In November 2001, the LPP&B expanded to a second brewing facility in Plattsburgh, New York, known as The Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company, quadrupling our brewing capacity and adding bottles to our product lineup.That is a success of scale and smart growth - and when it is on the Hannaford's in Watertown shelf 200 miles west as well as on tap at the Blue Tusk (look far right) 350 miles south west, Lake Placid is making a mark for itself. They are smart, too, in keeping it to two bottlings this pale ale and the heavier, maltier Ubu ale which I brought back way back last spring. Just so you know, the pale ale comes in at 6% with the Ubu at 7%. My man Lew Bryson tells me they have a milk stout on tap at the brew pub as well as an even hoppier Frostbite Pale Ale. He also says:
A "46'er" is someone who's climbed all forty-six "high peaks" of the AdirondacksI really do not understand the experience of the lower end of the beer advocate scale. Maybe they all had shelf stung bottles. Mine are definately fresh and displaying nothing other than loveliness. I would like to do a side by side with some Southern Tier IPA, maybe a Ithaca Flower Power and even a Syracuse Pale Ale to get some sense of the Lake Erie, Finger Lakes to Lake Champlain brewing arcing axis and what it all means.
This article from the BBC asks the question "Is beer less fattening than wine?" It provides evidence that beer is, in fact, not as fattening as we have been lead to believe -- that it is less fattening than wine and far less fattening than spirits. It claims the beer bellies that abound in the world's pubs are not a result of the beer, but of the beer-drinking lifestyle, which includes a lot of greasy pub food and a lack of physical activity.
Here's a "calories per 100 ml" table they include in the article:
Beer (4.6% alc): 41 calories
Wine (12% alc): 77 calories
Spirits: 250 calories
Milk: 64 calories
Orange juice: 42 calories
Apple juice: 47 calories
By that measure, beer is even less fattening than apple juice.
However, one must consider two things: first, not many people spend three or four nights a week sitting around a bar knocking back two or three litres of apple juice. Secondly, much of the information in the article comes from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), so it is not unbiased.
However, it is an eye-opening read for the moderate drinker. If your sweetie tut-tuts over your one or two "medicinal" beers per evening, you can show her the article and smile -- as long as you stay away from the poutine and the fish & chips while doing so.
The last of what Lew Bryson has called "the triumvirate" of Syracuse's temples to ale, the Blue Tusk, was my favorite for the mood of the day. Much Middle Ages on tap as well as Stone and Victory and even Blue Lite for who knows why. Loud and chatty, we walked in and immediately got into a two and a half hour conversation about Canadian and American differences with a couple of chemical engineers who were regulars. SU had just won a basketball game at the Dome and the place and the streets were loaded with fully grown men dressed in orange. The staff were happy to please and, though busy, a pleasure. One thing I liked is that the place smelled like beer. Not fried food and not smoke.
The real surprise of the night was the Syracuse Pale Ale on tap, a revelation of simplicity and quality over complexity and gimmick. If I had one beef it was the understocking of lower alcohol styles. There are some great milds and ordinary bitters out there and, unless you are aiming at getting plastered, a session of 8% to 10% beers is a bit much. Even with that being said, as with Clark's, the Blue Tusk is all about the quality and handling of real ale but with the hubbub that you sometimes want with your brew.
I am on some email listings about beer and received this message today about an event in Seattle, USA, which reminded me of the beauty that is the west coast USA practice of naming these strong ales:
Barleywine anyone? The Beveridge Place Pub is having their 3rd annual Barleywine Bacchanal March 4-12 at their pub in West Seattle. The lineup is incredible and will be rotated throughout the week. It's also a chance to check out the new beautiful backbar, if you haven't yet. Here's the lineup and I think you'll agree that there is something for everyone. He's also adding 4 additional taps for this event. Who needs to go to San Francisco, anyway?I have only had the Old Foghorn. What a pleasant prospect to have all these before you - perhance on tap.Anacortes Old Sebastes
Anchor Old Foghorn
Bear Creek Bearlywine
Boundary Bay Old Bounder
Bridgeport Old Knucklehead
Dick's Barleywine 2002
Far West Ireland Wild Banshee
Fish Leviathan - cask-conditioned
Fish Old Woody 2003
Fish Ten-squared - cask-conditioned
Full Sail Old Boardhead
Hales Rudyard's Rare
Hood Canal Briedablik
Lagunitas Old Gnarlywine
Leavenworth Old Grumpy - cask-conditioned
Marin Old Dipsea
North Coast Old Stock
Pacific Rim Castaway
Rattlesnake Mountain Venom
Rogue Old Crustacean
Scuttlebutt Old No. 1
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
Skagit River Three Angels
Snipes Mountain Roza
Speakeasy Old Godfather
Thirsty Bear Bearly Legal
Winthrop Buzzards Breath
Have a look at this article in the on-line version of UK paper The Independent about a sex crime crack-down in Russia. This is the headline: Kremlin acts to stem tide of porn, beer and thong ads. The article, however, is really about the movement to address sexual morality in Moscow. Beer is thrown in as an after-thought near the end, a co-incidental campaign reported here last fall.
Message: if you want to grab the attention of a newpaper reader, add "beer" to the headline.
The third part of the Singapore Beer Bar trilogy will be coming soon. Brewerkz will not be neglected, but I really need to get a new flat with reliable out-of-office Internet access before I finish the item. I'm still a bit busy with the move to China and with the new job. The annual parliament session is a somewhat heavy detail. As I said, there's not a lot of unexpected news. But there are a shedload of announcements of 'expected' news. So, I have to spend a lot of time doing background research on the things that are 'expected.'
Thankfully for beer-blog visitors, I have had time to sample two of Beijing's stranger brews: Blue Diamond Pineapple Beer and Blue Diamond Lemon Beer. I picked them up at a supermarket for about Rmb2.50 each (around 30 US cents per can).A couple of years ago I returned to Canada for a visit. While at a corner store, I picked up about $20 worth of candies that I remembered from my childhood. Aside from the Pixy Sticks, they all tasted much more disgusting than I had remembered. They were nothing but artificial flavorings and excess sugar (the Pixy Sticks, meanwhile, were pure sugar). Well, these beers reminded me of the horrible candies of my youth.
I'm not completely sure about the brewing process. However, I believe that the pineapple beer is a weak lager (1.5-2.5% ABV) flavored by allowing an artificially flavored pineapple Popsicle to melt into it. The Lemon beer is another weak lager, flavored by dissolving a few tablespoons of instant Country Time Lemonade into it. I had two sips of the pineapple beer and poured it down the sink. I had one sip of the lemon beer and poured it down the toilet.
The next time I'm back in Canada I plan to dissolve a couple of Pixy Sticks into a bottle of Molson's. I'm sure the result will be more pleasing.
OK, maybe only if you are a castaway...
Search and rescue teams this morning found a North Fort Myers man who was reported missing several days after he set off on a rowboat trip, with little more than a case of beer to sustain him...Kimball told Punta Gorda police that he left Saturday morning and rowed to Pine Island, about 20 miles away. He told authorities that he wanted to think through personal matters. But strong winds slowed his trip back to Punta Gorda. According to police, he resorted to eating seaweed and grasses.Thinking through personal matters, a row boat and the gulf stream simply do not mix. Thank God for the sustaining power of beer that saw this man through.
Never was a beer from Stone so appropriate...
We only stopped in Awful Al's briefly when walking between Clark's and the Blue Tusk. Two reasons. I was told to stop taking photos and it is a reminder of how great the anti-smoking laws are for the consumption of fine beers. It is, however, the dimmest lit bar I think I have ever been in and as a result the doctored photos give you the sense of the place as cross between photographer's dark room, a 1970s era Soviet submarine and a very merry upper level of Hell.
One kind correspondent, Jim of Maltblog, has written me:
Awful Al's is the place to go for whiskeys and bottled beers. They have a very good selection and a hip atmosphere and clientele. It's a bit of a meat market, so be warned - it can be very crowded and is filled with the yuppies that you didn't find at Clark's. But if you are looking for a dram of Balvenie PortWood or a Laphroaig, this is your place. It's also the only place I know of in Syracuse that have a waiver from the smoking ban in bars and restaurants - it's very smoky as a result.Very smoky as the streets by dark industrial mills at midnight in 1840 were smoky. The ever excellent Lew Bryson is warmer to this particular flame to the moth in his ever informing book New York Breweries (1st ed, p. 205):
...walk over to Awful Al's Whiskey and Cigar Bar (321 South Clinton Street, 315-472-4427), across from the Suds Factory and lose yourself in contemplation of hundreds of bottles of spirits. Come back to your senses and realize there are some great taps of beer here as well, a big old humidor, and big couches and armchairs to relax in while you enjoy your smoke whiskey. This is civilization....
Look - he's right. The wall of wickedness. You know, you really ought to buy Lew's books if you have any interest in ales and find yourself in New York or Pennsylvania or coming soon Delaware, Virginia and Maryland. You can't be relying on us for every good opinion. Sure I am looking for a signed copy to review...but I will pay. The piper is due his wages.
So in the end I did not have a dram or a drop in Awful Al's, driven by oxygen deficit syndrome as well as my fear of such a complete temple to appetite and someone's reasonable sensitivity to having your face on the internet. I think that I would have to get to know it better, drop the residual asthma and have a change of clothes so that I could burn the nicotine soaked ones I would be leaving in. And buy those spy camera glasses everyone is talking about. But that is just me. Every heaven is not the same heaven and you might like Lou's better than mine. I know I found mine at the Blue Tusk which I will report on anon.
It is, in reflection, interesting that Al's, Clarks, the Blue Tusk and even the hotel bar at the Marx where we stayed each suited a different definition of comfort-and-joy and God-rest-ye-merry-gentlemanliness. All distinct from the Maritime and New England taverns of benches and heavy wood tables like those of Halifax or Portland Maine's Gritty McDuff's and Three Dollar Dooies, again, despite the shared goal. Speaks to the differences in local culture as much as anything I suppose.