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Archive for December, 2012

Dwellers of Cellars and Barrels Both

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Everyone in the beer world loves December, because that’s when all the good stuff comes out and beer geeks everyone get worked up into a tizzy. Except me; I kinda hate it.

Don’t get me wrong: I love great beer, and all these barley wines, imperial stouts and winter warmers are definitely great beer. I also love to cellar beer and that, my friends, is where the problem comes in. That means I have to buy a lot of this beer, and that means running around chasing delivery vans (or relying on the always awesome Sharon), and all that means I’m going into debt this December. Thanks a lot, guys.

It didn’t used to be this bad. Driftwood would drop out OCD, I would buy a couple of cases, and I’d be happy. I would try Phillips and Howe Sounds’ offerings, declare them decent-but-not-cellarable and we’d move on to next year.

Oh, how things have changed. Not only have the minor breweries gotten better, but now Central City is bottling Thor’s Hammer, and Driftwood made two, count them, TWO versions of OCD. Gah. I guess I’m eating cat food for Christmas.

All bitching about my ruined finances aside, how are these beers? Does a few months in bourbon barrels (and a double-shot of malt) make a huge difference? Short answer: yes. Long answer: Yeeeeeeesssssssss.

Tasting notes:

OCD: Nose is light caramel with lots of CO2 fizz. On the palate I get lots of that same caramel, but hints of vanilla with a bit of toffee finish. Hops are pretty well stacked up here, but should fade and mellow over time. This year’s release is very similar to the 2011 version. In short, they’re both built to age for a long time, so much so that I wouldn’t consider the 2012 terribly drinkable right now.

OBD: Nose is BOURBON! Whoa! Also in there are caramel, liquorice, dates and some plum. I wonder if molasses sneaked into this mix? Carbonation is much lower than OCD. The taste is dominated by bourbon alcohol, with an astringent oakiness towards the back. Hops are lacking, but definitely there. Over a glass, this sucker builds a nice whisky burn in the back of your throat. Unlike OCD, this is a beer for drinking right now, but the whisky will fade and mellow with ageing. The question is whether it will ultimately turn into a sticky sweet mess or not.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Old Cellar Dweller Old Barrel Dweller
Style American Barley Wine American Barley Wine
SOA Now Silver Silver
SOA Potential Gold Silver
Drink 2013 to 2018 Now to 2014
Relative sketchiness of the wax
seal compared to 2012 Singularity
Availability Most LRSs, but OBD is going fast
Cost $12.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) Central City Thor’s Hammer, Phillips Trainwreck, Howe Sound Wooly Bugger
Chuck says MINE! They’re all mine! Get your filthy hands off them!

Like you expected anything else.

Written by chuck

December 6th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Beers

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Focus on the LDB IV

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Q4 isn’t just the best retail sales quarter for normal merchants; it’s also the home stretch for merchants of the boozier variety. Not only do liquor sales sky-rocket during December, but liquor consumption rises hand in hand. As well, the booze consumed is generally a bit higher end on average, as people seem inexplicably willing to share The Good Stuff with that lousy alcoholic, Drunk Uncle Chuck.

So it’s no surprise that, with Christmas just around the corner, the LDB has massively updated their website advertising with all kinds of suggestions on how you should spend your fist full of cash bills (or “beer coupons”, as I like to call them).

How does beer stack up here? I’m hoping much better than usual, since unlike wine and liquor, beer 100% does come in Christmas variants, and there are lots of those available on the market right now. Let’s tally things up for my running LDB ad counter:

Ad 1: 36 page Holiday Gift Guide. This is a mini-version of the quarterly Taste magazine, distilled down to just product shots and tasting notes. In its thirty-six pages of booze photographed in front of background Christmas decorations, we are instructed to purchase: 15 types of Liquor, 28 types of Wine, and zero types of beer. I mean, you don’t want offend your friends and family by getting them beer, do you?

Ad 2: Just in case the glossy book wasn’t enough, we have a dedicated ad showing off the best hard liquor to slide under the tree. Oh wait, did I say best? I meant cheapest (see also: “Russian Standard Vodka“; $24.99 per 750ml)

Ad 3: This just links to a page of links to other ads, both current and from the past. Very meta, LDB.

Ad 4: Cute bears for charities. Sure, it’s not beer, but aaawwwwwww.

I’m not even kidding. Those things are adorable.

Ad 5: Gifts for the Season. Oh. Wow. It took a few months, but there it is. Amoung a list of booze apparently picked simply because they come in boxes, we find not one, but two beers: Historic Ales from Scotland, and Innis & Gunn 2010. Considering they’re lumped in with the “Palm Bay Holiday Pack” at the end of the list this isn’t quite the massive yay-beer victory we’ve been holding out for, but I will count it in the beer column none-the-less. But only as 2/14 of a point, to reflect all the Not Beer in there.

Ad 6: Don’t drink and drive. Hard to argue with that one.

Ad 7: A summary of “best sellers”, but strictly limited to wine. This is because a top 10 list of the LDB’s best selling SKUs would be entirely beer, but you can’t admit that can you?

So what’s the tally?

Liquor: +2.0 (1/2 of #1, 1/2 of #5)
Wine: +2.0 (1/2 of #1, 1/2 of #5)
Beer: +0.14 — We’re on the board! Yeah!
Corporate: +3

This brings our running total to:

Liquor: 8 (+2)
Corporate: 10 (+3)
Wine: 17 (+2)
Beer: 0.14 (+0.14)

Yeah! Progress! And now, continuing my trend of pointing out all the great beer the LDB could be featuring but elect to avoid talking about in polite company. Let’s see what’s available right now!

Beer 1: Parallel 49 Dark Christmas Cascadian Dark Ale

Look! It’s a beer with “Christmas” right in its name! How much more could you ask for in a booze-themed Christmas present? Add to that that this beer is a delicious example of an emergent style and that it’s the beer that set off the recent Cascadia kerfuffle, and you have not just something to drink, but something to talk about.

Price: $5.50 for 650ml
Availability: Widely Available

Beer 2: Dead Frog Fearless IPA

Could this be the beer that makes us take Dead Frog seriously? Perhaps, but only if you buy it. Luckily for you, this excellent IPA is available widely in the LDB, and for cheap!

Price: $4.99 for 650ml
Availability: Widely Available

Beer 3: Granville Island Imperial Chocolate Stout

In the past this beer has been gord-awful, with a cloyingly sweet milk chocolate body that just can’t stop yelling “Look at me! I’m Chocolate!” This year, though, they amped up the booze and dialed back the chocolate and we have a nicely balanced, warming winter ale, in which it’s hard to tell where the cocoa’s bitterness ends and the hops’ begins.

Price: $5.75 for 650ml
Availability: Widely Available

Written by chuck

December 4th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Beers

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December Beer of the Month

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Lighthouse Brewing has been slowly upping their game, at least in the form of the “Small Brewery, Big Taste” series, which come in skillfully screened 650ml bombers. The latest of these is “Siren Imperial Red Ale” and man is it ever good.

Make no mistake, this ale screams Dean McLeod, the chap that has reinvented one of Victoria’s biggest brewery. The body is a massive warm hug of amber maltiness, backed by a healthy punch of hoppy citrus-ness. The hazy body indicates that a healthy amount of yeast was left it, explaining the almost Belgian funk on the body. I wish I could adequately describe this one, but I just can’t. You need to buy it.

Is it just me, or does each LH beer’s label have less clothes on than the previous?

We all know Lighthouse has been getting better recently, but honestly I did not expect of beer of this quality to come from them any time soon. Imperial Red Ales are finicky beers that are very hard to do right; that Lighthouse has served up a nigh-perfect example of the style makes me seriously excited to see where they go next. This beer is effectively serving notice that Lighthouse is to be taken seriously, and not just for their top flight IPA. Driftwood & Central City? Move over, you have company at the top.

Coles notes:

Brewery Lighthouse
From Victoria, BC
Name Siren
Style Imperial Red Ale
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential n/a. Not a cellaring beer.
Drink Immediately. Do not dally.
Label Weirdness Why are the blue and red rays coming from her ass? Also, what’s she sitting on?
Availability Select LRS; limited release.
Cost Unknown; likely ~$7-8 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Howe Sound Thirsty Beaver, Hopworks Rise Up Red
Chuck says This is a statement beer with a small release. If you see it, buy as much as you might possible want, because you won’t see it again.

Even though it won’t cellar, it’s still fantastic.

Written by chuck

December 2nd, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Posted in Beers

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