Archive for the ‘Beers’ Category
I’ll admit it: I like Spruce Ales. In much the same way that I’m not partial to White IPAs, I am partial to Spruce Ales. So, you should take this review with a grain of salt. Maybe I’m just gaga over anything with tree bits in it, or maybe I hold Spruce Beers to an even higher standard because of how much I lust after them. I honestly have no idea.
Dead Frog is continuing to try and convince the world that they’ve given up their Lime Lager ways, and the Big Stump Spruce Golden Ale is the next in their “no really, it’s good beer, we swear!” series. Okay, fine, the series doesn’t actually have a name but that’s how they’re coming across. And, while the Lime Lager Days definitely are behind DF, their debt to craft beer in general hasn’t quite been paid off yet.
The press material for this beer is frankly incomplete, only hinting at the origin of Spruce Tip Ale with a frustratingly vague reference to Captain Cook’s NorthWest voyage. Spruce Beer was indeed brewed by Captain Cook, who’s on-board brewery mixed spruce tips in with their ale to combat scurvy. While the exact origins of the practice are not known, it is certainly at least several centuries older than Captain Cook. You can learn more on WikiPedia.
Secondly, and minorly, the presser mentions that Dead Frog draws their water from the Fraser River. I will chalk this one up as poetic license, for if they’re pulling that brown “liquid” into their brewery we should all get tested for any number of water born illnesses immediately, but I digress.
How is the beer behind the label? Not bad at all. It’s not an amazing Spruce Ale, but it’s fairly competently done, and a great example of an all-too-rare style. Combine that with a beer that frankly pours an attractive glass, and you have a strong contender for your weekend patio pints.
|Style||Golden Ale (Spruce)|
|Does it compare to the first Tofino Spruce Tip IPA?||Sigh. No. Nothing ever could.|
|Cost||$5.50-$7.50 per 650ml|
|Similar Beers||Tofino Spruce Ale|
About a month ago, a local pseudo-brewery sent out a request on Twitter for people to review their new beer. Whistler Brewing (actually a subsidiary brand of the larger NorthAm Group out of Kamloops, which also brews the piss-in-a-can known as Bowen Island Beer) had released a new California Common, titled Big Sky, and wanted local beer snobs to know about it.
It didn’t take long for the kind folk of Twitter land to suggest that perhaps they should send a sample off to me for review. Strangely, no sample arrived. Perhaps they forgot. Or, perhaps they’re even passingly familiar with my blog and/or previous reviews of their “beer”.
Whistler could be forgiven for thinking that I have it out for them, but then again I did rather like their Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. So, you see Whistler Brewing, it’s your beer I dislike intensely, not you. If you brew better beer, I tend to give it good reviews.
See how that works? Weird, right? I know, I know, it truly would be so much easier if I was the kind of beer snob who would hand out praising reviews simply because you’re giving me free beer. Alas, that’s not the case. Also alas, it’s what gives the following review some clout.
First up, the style. I’ve always suspected that the marketers ran the show at NorthAm, and calling this beer an “Uncommon Lager” just reinforces that. The label rambles on providing a decently accurate description of the California Common style, although they completely fail to mention anything about California, or the actually interesting history behind that style.
Why would they invent a style, though? I can’t profess to know, but I suspect their target market might be confused by the California Common term, and its nasty trait of not having the word “Lager” crammed right in it. Perhaps unsophisticated beer drinkers of the sort what comprise Whistler’s demographic like lagers, and generally can’t be counted on to be patient or literate enough to bother reading the beer description. Sure, that’s rampant speculation, but I’m running with it.
Is it any damned good, though? Meh. It’s an okay, if not great, Cali Common. When I drink a Cali, I’m looking for a smooth malt body and complex finish. This beer falls short of the mark. Cereal properly comes through up front on the palate, but the finish is dominated by bitter hops without any of the firm, toasted grain backbone typical of the style. If you want a Cali Common, go drink 33 Acres of Life, which is drinking particularly well right now.
pale red, filtered. Thick tight persistent white head.
Hints of pilsner malt. Cereal and strong grain. About right.
Like a strongly hopped light ale. Lacks lager crispness and round mouthfeel, yet despite all this is actually very sweet. Long unpleasant bitter finish.
5.0% ABV / 36 IBU / California Common
Do you like boring, over hopped beer?
|Best use||Making 33 Acres Life taste even better|
|Cost||$4.75-$6.00 per 650ml|
|Similar Beers||33 Acres of Life, Anchor Steam|
From Burnaby comes a new Feature Beer. Ben Coli’s new Dageraad Brewery caught some local beererati attention with the release of Beta, an aborted batch of their Belgian Amber that was too good to throw out. For the outcome of an “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit” moment it was a pretty good beer. Heck, even if it was the outcome of a carefully measured and executed brewing process it would still be considered a pretty good beer.
Beta, alas, has come and gone, never to return. Replacing it are the first of Dageraad’s permanent lineup: Blonde and Amber. Amber isn’t quite as good as Beta was–frankly it could use a bit of dialling in–but that’s not the beer I want to talk about today. Today I’m talking about Blonde.
And ho boy is this a good Belgian beer. I should know; I was just in Belgium, and honestly this beer could slide into a Bruges café and no one would be the wiser. It’s not perfect, but its faults are subtle.
In addition to just being a lovely beer, I picked Dageraad Blonde as a Feature Beer for two additional reasons. First, the brewery is a true micro. Ben, Mitch and Erin are literally the whole show, and Erin’s only working part time. Second, this is the first honest-to-Gord Belgian brewery in BC.
Sure, others have flirted with Belgian-style beers here and there, but mostly via buying a vat of Belgian yeast from Wyeast and then cramming the kettle full of hops. Sure, I like a hoppy Belgian, but they’re not exactly authentic, now are they?
Enter Dageraad and their balanced, round Blonde. Buy some, drink some, and cellar some. This beer will improve with time, much like its Old World ancestors.
Pours bright cloudy yellow with a thin, persistent white head.
Standard Belgian yeast esters: banana, lots of clove
Good mouthfeel. Sweet start and a balanced dry end, some citrus/lemon. Perhaps every so slightly overhopped on the finish, but really splitting hairs here.
7.5% ABV / <20? IBU / Belgian Blonde
Yes. Absolutely. Ignore the lumpy label and buy the damned thing.
|Bottles of this you could buy instead of a ticket to Belgium||156|
|Cost||~$8-10+ per 650ml|
|Similar Beers||None locally|